FARGO — A significant snowfall in Fargo over the last couple of years was usually followed with a phone call from North Dakota State head football coach Matt Entz to NDSU’s deputy athletic director Todd Phelps inquiring if the school’s indoor bubble was still inflated. Beginning in the fall of 2022, that will no longer be an issue.
NDSU on Thursday announced its long-awaited permanent indoor practice facility will be a reality. The Nodak Insurance Company Football Performance Complex will begin construction in July.
The $37.2 million project was given final authorization on Thursday by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education. It will be located at the site of the current football practice fields just to the south of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
“This is something we’ve been waiting for a long, long time,” said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. “The size and scope of a project like this doesn’t happen overnight.”
The facility will be paid for by a consortium of private donors paced by a lead gift from Nodak Insurance Company. Larsen said the division of donations will not be released, but he did signal out other significant contributors as Gate City Bank, Scheels All Sports, Team Makers booster club and alums Bob Yaggie, Bruce Yaggie, Terry Hanson and Tom Blattner.
The design component, Larsen said, is a combination of Foss Architecture and Interiors in Fargo and Crawford Architects LLC from Kansas City, which recently did the indoor football facilities for the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks.
“We wanted to make sure we brought in a firm that built an indoor facility before,” Larsen said.
The facility will have multiple components to it such as a fully lighted outdoor practice field, a 12,000-square foot weight room, locker rooms and sports medicine amenities. The two-phase project will begin with the outdoor practice field and the main indoor field, which will be 120 yards long and 60 yards wide.
Seven overhead doors on the east side of the building will open up to the outdoor field. The building will be 72 feet high. In other words, it will take a booming punt to reach the peak.
“I hope we have punters that have a problem punting in it,” quipped Entz. “This will provide year-around development for our specialists.”
It’s not just football, either. The facility will be netted to accommodate multiple sports.
The anticipated construction timeline is 13 to 15 months, meaning the hope is it will be ready when the Bison start football practice in August of 2022.
Meanwhile, with construction taking over the practice fields this fall, the team will share Dacotah Field with the Bison soccer program and have a grass field to the west of its track and field complex.
The weight room is expected to help alleviate the crowded weight training facility at the SHAC. Larsen said it gets used from 5 a.m. to around 8 p.m.
“It’s been a long road, it really has,” he said. “There have been so many people involved. When you see the renderings, there’s a wow factor.”
NDSU’s indoor bubble is nearing the end of its estimated 10-year lifespan. It’s put up after soccer season in the fall and taken down sometime in the spring. And although it’s been essential to at least get out of the outdoor elements, Entz, for one, is happy for an upgrade in more ways than just practicing.
“Facilities are always a huge piece in the recruiting process,” he said. “Having a permanent structure brings credibility to the program. Not having a permanent structure has been used against us.”
NDSU will join North Dakota, South Dakota State and Youngstown State as Missouri Valley Football Conference schools with indoor practice facilities.
“What a great day when you’re finally able to put this facility in front of people,” Entz said. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time, since when I first arrived at NDSU.”