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UND land sale could be tied to indoor practice facility addition

UND's biggest athletic department priority has taken a step forward and an unused golf course might be providing a financial boost.

UND received approval Wednesday from the State Board of Higher Education at a meeting in Bismarck to privately fundraise $35 million for the second phase of the school's High Performance Center.

UND's request included language suggesting a land sale could provide up to $8 million toward the price tag.

The request for the addition to the indoor practice facility was unanimously granted by the state board Wednesday afternoon at a meeting in Bismarck.

According to the Summary of Proposed Action for UND's request, "Funds for this project are derived from private funds pending this request and up to $8 million in funds from the sale of excess property."

When asked whether the property in question is a reference to Ray Richards Golf Course, which has sat unused since November 2016, a UND spokesman said it's among the possibilities.

"We're not sure exactly where that will come from," UND's Peter Johnson said in an email. "We have property that we're considering selling, the sale of which (assuming we do sell the property) might go toward the HPC. Whether any proceeds from the sale of the Ray Richards land, assuming we get to that point, is used in that way remains to be seen."

The golf course is named after UND alum Ray Richards, who, along with three other owners, donated the 150-acre former farm to the university in 1962.

The agreement made between Richards and UND included an understanding that the land was being donated for a golf course to be named after Richards.

The original landowners transferred the plot to the university for a rate of $300 per acre, for a total of $45,000. Of that sum, Richards gifted $11,250 outright.

The HPC's second phase, which would be built to the west of the current facility, calls for the construction of "athletic support spaces: offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight rooms, nutrition room, athletic therapy rooms and other training-related spaces that support UND's student athletes and UND's ROTC students," according to the Summary of Proposed Action.

The HPC, built with almost $20 million in private funds, opened in 2015 and sits adjacent to Memorial Stadium at the site of the old Ralph Engelstad Arena. The building is almost 200,000 square feet and features a full-length football field and an eight-lane, 300-meter track.

During the state board's Wednesday meeting, North Dakota State University also was granted the authority to privately fundraise more than $37 million for an indoor practice facility.