SIU hoping new facilities can lure NFL, IHSA events


WPSD Sports

Southern Illinois football completed the inaugural season for their new Saluki stadium last year. The Salukis also got a new locker room. Now SIU is trying to use their upgraded football facilities to attract some big time NFL events.

Sport is all about competition.

Southern Illinois University is competing for two huge athletic events.

They will meet with the IHSA next month about the possibility of hosting playoff games.

Southern Illinois is also being considered by the St. Louis Rams as a training camp site this summer.

"You always want to have the opportunity, whether it's playing in a game or it's hosting some athletic competitions," SIU Athletic Director Mario Moccia says. "And I think the new facilities give us that opportunity to be at the table."

"We're here to help support the community," SIU Senior Associate Athletic Director Jason King says. "I think bringing in events like this can obviously bring in revenue for the community but it also brings in some unique opportunities for people in the community. For example, to come out and watch the Rams."

We know of one other school the Rams are considering: Missouri-Rolla. SIU believes they have a 50-50 chance to beat them out.

"Knowing that the other option is Rolla, knowing that they want to go to a campus site, that's why I say 50-50," Moccia says. "Obviously, the option of staying in St. Louis exists. Obviously, the NFL labor agreement certainly is something that we have to be wary of."

"Whether they end up choosing to make that decision is kind of up to them," King says. But we're going to do everything that we can do in our power to make that happen.

"We've got unbelievable facilities," Moccia says. Not only facilities, but (we're) kind of a hidden gem down here. If they just give us a chance to show it off, we would be more than happy to be the best hosts possible.

Southern Illinois hopes their new facilities will continue to create opportunities, for both revenue and exposure.