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Departing NDSU AD keeps his focus on bubble project

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FARGO – The North Dakota State athletic department is still on pace for a bubble facility that will cover Dacotah Field beginning later this fall. It’s one of the last few remaining pieces of unfinished business for athletic director Gene Taylor before he leaves for Iowa.

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The school received bids from three firms who specialize in the portable facilities: Arizon Structures from St. Louis, Air Structures American Technologies Inc.. (ASATI) out of Rye Brook, N.Y., and Yeadon from Minneapolis.

Taylor will be leaving in July, where he will be the deputy athletic director for the Hawkeyes. He said fundraising for the project, estimated around $1.5 million, is verbally completed.

“The bubble and finalizing a couple donors,” Taylor said of the priority for his final few weeks. “We need to get fundraising offers written and signed.”

Three companies submitted bids for the air-supported structures, which range from $800,000 to $1.2 or $ 1.3 million, said NDSU facilities management director Mike Ellingson. But he also said there is more to the decision than just price.

Other factors to consider include energy efficiency, with some structures having better insulation factors and coatings than others.

“You have to do calculation payback,” Ellingson said. “It isn’t all based on price. It’s based on performance or other factors. It’s like a Ford and a Chevy. They are different vehicles, and you have to look at all options associated with that.”

Ellingson said he’s hoping to award a bid yet this week. Also to be awarded are bids for construction, which is mostly work to prepare the site for the bubble. It’s already received the necessary approvals from the North Dakota state Board of Higher Education.

The plan is to install it after the NDSU women’s soccer season is complete and take it down sometime after Bison spring football is completed. It’s expected to be stored at a facility on campus.

The bubble would use the existing Dacotah Field Sprinturf, but would not cover the stands. At about 75 feet high, many of NDSU’s athletic programs are tabbed to use it. For instance, it’s touted to be high enough for a punter in football, or for a baseball or softball player to catch fly balls.

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Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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