Southeast Missouri State University student publication

SEMO football sets record for most season tickets sold in stadium upgrade debut

Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Fans cheer on the Redhawks at their Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 at Houck Stadium.
Southeast Arrow File

The success of SEMO football in recent years has seemed to ignite a growing interest in the Cape Girardeau and SEMO communities, as the Redhawks will have their most season tickets sold in program history for the 2023 season.

While the official number of tickets sold was not released SEMO vice president for intercollegiate athletics, Brady Barke, said that number is around 1,200.

The news comes along with the renovation of Houck Stadium, which includes a new south side of the stadium, that in the words of Barke, “provides better seating opportunities than what we’ve been able to the last few years.”

SEMO senior defensive lineman Lunden Manuel said seeing the evolution of SEMO’s stadium situation since he arrived as a freshman has been a great sight to see.

“Getting here in 2019 and just seeing that [stadium] thing go full circle, from the old stadium, to no stadium, to a new stadium, this is beautiful. I can’t wait to get into that first game,” Manuel said.

SEMO head coach Tom Matukewicz said that his excitement can barely be contained before the Redhawks home debut this upcoming season.

“With a new stadium, I just hope I don’t hyperventilate against Lindenwood in that first game,” Matukewicz said.

Barke said that while the stadium definitely gives excitement to the fans, another huge factor is the success SEMO has had on the gridiron over the last five seasons.

“It certainly helps that we also have a football program that’s had a lot of success recently. It’s going to start the season as a top 10 program in the country,” Barke said.

The Redhawks have won nine games and clinched NCAA FCS playoff berths in three of the last five seasons, as well as winning two Ohio Valley Conference Championships.

Those numbers look better compared to the previous seven before, where SEMO won no more than five games in any season. Coach Matukewicz said that lack of fan investment due to the Redhawks’ losing seasons was his biggest issue he needed to facewhen he was hired.

The biggest problem when I got here was apathy. People just didn’t care about SEMO football and they shouldn’t have, there wasn’t enough success to have people care about it,” Matukewicz said.

According to Barke, this season the Redhawks have sold 10% more season tickets than any other season, which could be a sign that the fans now have reasons to care.

“Even if we go back to our highest season ticket sales, before the stadium renovations began, we’re still probably about 10% higher than any other year that we had ever had,” Barke said. “I think that speaks to just the overall excitement of both the stadium renovation and the outlook for the program.”