CARBONDALE - Saluki Stadium may be new, but it's still filled with the same Saluki fans.

The stadium, with a 15,000 person capacity, was packed for its home opener Thursday, and just about every fan was in unison with chants and stomps.

Fans who put up with the dilapidated McAndrew Stadium for years and students at their first Saluki game were treated to a massive new scoreboard, a closer view of the field and an all around newer environ-ment.

Jerry Phillips of Carbondale has been an avid Saluki football fan for about the past 30 years. He played football in McAndrew with the Carbondale Community High School football team and said Saluki Stadium is a huge improvement.

"You're more on top of the field," Phillips said. "Plus you have that gor-geous scoreboard."

E.J. Robertson, a sophomore in journalism from Chicago, said the stadium premiere is his first Saluki football game and he really likes what he sees.

"It's cool," Robertson said. "I definitely like the design and setup."

Sean Burke, a 2000 graduate of SIUC, has been a big Saluki fan since he started school in 1998. He said the stadium is a great change that will have a positive impact on the university and the region.

He brought his four children to the game and said he loves the grassy overflow area because he was able to watch the game while his children could toss a football back and forth and run around a little.

Phillips said he is looking forward to the team en-joying a lot of success in the new stadium. He said he hopes to see the Salukis make the playoffs and perhaps even get a championship.

Mickey Garrett of West Frankfort said the Salukis have a great team and a great coach in Dale Lennon. With the foun-dation laid by former coach Jerry Kill and Len-non now at the helm, he said SIU has built a heck of a crew.

"They've built a dynasty here at SIU," Garrett said.

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