ST. LOUIS, Mo. (GoSoutheast.com) – Longstanding rivals Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois will play in the first NCAA football game at Busch Stadium on Sept. 21, 2013.
The announcement was made during a joint press conference with the St. Louis Cardinals, Southeast and SIU Monday at the Busch Stadium Press Dining Room.
"We'd like to thank the St. Louis Cardinals for the opportunity to play this game at Busch Stadium," said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University. "Nearly 40 percent of this year's freshmen class at Southeast is from the greater St. Louis region, and playing this game at Busch Stadium is exciting for all our students, and great exposure for our University and the Redhawk football program."
Southeast and SIU are located just 46 miles apart from each other and have close to 40,000 local alumni in St. Louis, as well as thousands of students from the St. Louis area.
"From a proximity and distance standpoint, it just made sense to be able to hold a game that would draw mutual interest from both Universities at a great venue like Busch Stadium," said Southeast Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt. "This is something that's going to potentially get national exposure and it's a win-win for all parties involved."
The Redhawks and Salukis were initially scheduled to play in Cape Girardeau before officials from both institutions reached an agreement with the Cardinals to move the game to Busch Stadium.
As the iconic home of one of the most storied franchises in baseball, Busch Stadium is one of the most sought after special event venues in St. Louis. Since it was opened in 2006, Busch Stadium has hosted over a thousand special events ranging from corporate meetings, weddings and charity events to one-of-kind concerts such as Dave Matthews Band, the Eagles and U2. This will be the first football game and the second major non-baseball sporting event held at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals will host an international soccer match between the English Premier League teams Chelsea and Manchester City in May.
"We are thrilled to host our first football game in Busch Stadium with two great schools that have such a large following in St. Louis," said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. "We are excited to showcase the versatility of Busch Stadium as a multi-use venue ideally suited for special football games like this historic game between two longstanding rivals."
Southeast has 24 players from the St. Louis area on its football roster and returning home to play in a top-notch facility with an extra media spotlight will be special.
"It's an opportunity for us to play in a big atmosphere and there's been a lot of excitement around this game," added Southeast head coach Tony Samuel. "My hope is that we have a large crowd since both schools have so many alums in the area."
Southeast has played SIU more than any other school in football in a series that dates back to 1909. This year's game will be the 81st meeting between the two programs. The Redhawks lead the all-time series, 39-33-8, although the Salukis have won three of the last four matchups since renewing the series in 2009.
Southeast will play a football game in St. Louis for the fourth time in 2013. The Redhawks played three games at the old Busch Stadium as an NCAA Division II affiliate. Southeast defeated Truman State (formerly Northeast Missouri State) in 1985 and 1986, and lost to Missouri S&T (formerly Missouri-Rolla) in 1988.
The game, slated for 1 p.m., CT, will be the third on Southeast's schedule this season. Tickets will go on sale June 3. Ticket prices are $60 (All-inclusive), $17 (lower level), $10 (upper level), $5 (student/end zone). For tickets and additional details, fans should go to cardinals.com/football.