"Fred G. Hughes Stadium at the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex is now in its 36th year as the Home of the Lions. The $1.7 million stadium was built in 1975 at no cost to the taxpayers of the State of Missouri, as financing was accomplished entirely through student fees and private contributions.
The first college football facility in the state to have an artificial-turf playing field, Hughes Stadium was outfitted with a brand new playing surface in 2003. Sprinturf, a Wayne, Pa. based company was contracted to replace the artificial surface in early 2003. Sprinturf, a leading synthetic turf company, is the innovator and patent holder of the first all rubber infill synthetic grass system. Vertically integrated, Sprinturf designs, manufactures, installs and services synthetic grass systems that look, feel and play like natural grass. Gone are the days of rug burns from previous artificial surfaces.
Sprinturf has installed its product at several locations, including the University of Montana and Youngstown State, as well as a new surface at Auburn.
The new turf at Hughes Stadium was installed in conjunction with a new all-weather surface on the facility's track as part of an $820,000 project. The Lion Pride Restoration Project, kicked off in 2002, raised almost $1 million in private and corporate donations to complete the project. The stadium project not only included new football and track surfaces, but also new, single-pole light standards installed further back from their previous locations.
The new turf at Hughes Stadium replaced a BaspoGrass-S surface, a sand-filled turf, that was utilized since 1988. AstroTurf graced the Hughes playing surface for its first 13 years.
The stadium has a seating capacity of 7,000. The west grandstand seats nearly 4,700 fans, including a section for the handicapped, while the east grandstand has seating for approximately 2,300 spectators.
The first game at the stadium was played on Sept. 6, 1975, as the Lions defeated Emporia State University 20-13. The facility was formally dedicated two weeks later on Sept. 20, and Southern was again victorious, beating the University of Missouri-Rolla 26-6.
After winning five of seven home games that initial season, the Lions have enjoyed great success while playing on the "turf." In 28 seasons of play at Hughes Stadium, Southern has compiled an impressive 89-51-3 record for a .622 winning percentage.
Southern's longest home win streak is 11 games. That string began on Oct. 11, 1975, and continued two years later until Oct. 29, 1977, when nationally-ranked Kearney State College (now University of Nebraska-Kearney) handed the Lions a 27-23 homecoming loss.
In addition to Lions football, Hughes Stadium is home to Southern's cross country and track & field squads. The facility has hosted Missouri Class 1A, 2A, and 5A Football Championships and various regional and national youth cross country and track & field meets.
The stadium is named in honor of Fred G. Hughes, who was the president of the College's Board of Regents at the time the facility was built. It was designed by the architectural firm of Allgeier, Martin, and Associates of Joplin.
Hughes Stadium Facts
Constructed: 1975 Cost: $1.7 Million
Seating Capacity: 7,000
Playing Surface: Sprinturf (installed with a new track in 2003)
First Game: Sept. 6, 1975 (Southern 20, Emporia State 13)
Dedication Game: Sept. 20, 1975 (Southern 26, Missouri-Rolla 6)
First Touchdown: Robert Davis, Southern vs. Emporia State, Sept. 6, 1975 (2-yard run)
First Field Goal: Harvey Derrick, Southern vs. Missouri-Rolla, Sept. 20, 1975 (35 yards)
Most Points, Southern: 68 vs. Evangel College, Sept. 18, 1982
Most Points, Opponent: 55, Northwest Missouri, Oct. 9, 2004"
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