FARGO — The old coach is at it again.
Longtime and former North Dakota State University Bison basketball coach Erv Inninger told the Fargo Park Board on Tuesday night, Oct. 9, that the new Fargo Sports Complex planned in south Fargo would have a major impact on the city and be a huge benefit to the youth of the metropolitan area.
"It's an unbelievable project," said the coach with the most wins in men's basketball at NDSU. He said public-private partnerships work well and reduce costs for taxpayers.
The park district-operated complex, with Sanford Health as its main partner, is expected to include indoor turf, up to 12 hardwood courts for basketball and volleyball, possibly two sheets of ice and an indoor walking track. There could also be outdoor space for baseball, soccer and football, although parts of the project may have to be done in phases.
The sports complex will be built on 100 acres just west of Interstate 29, between the Walmart store on 52nd Avenue South and 64th Avenue South.
Inninger, who also helped raise money for the Newman Outdoor Field and the Sanford Health Athletic Complex and Scheels Center on the NDSU campus, was at the park board meeting to give some advice on raising funds for the project. He said he would also be helping in the effort.
The fundraising is still in the quiet phase, although it was noted that Scheels recently committed to a major donation. The effort is expected to gain momentum in future months.
One reason is that Mike Erickson, executive director of facilities and support for Sanford Health, said the land purchase is expected to be completed Nov. 1.
The next step, he said, would be annexing that land into the city and working with officials on infrastructure needed for facility that would be somewhat like the major sports complex of numerous buildings and outdoor fields in northwest Sioux Falls, S.D., where The Pentagon has become a popular basketball and tournament destination.
The Fargo complex, Erickson said, however, would be more like one huge connected structure. It would still be a major draw for tournaments and visitors, with a Sanford estimate of more than 600,000 people a year.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the park board approved seeking bids for a construction manager, which Interim Park District Executive Director Dave Leker said could help hold down costs by reviewing drawings, working on contracts, estimating budgets and working on phasing strategies. It was hoped a firm could be hired in December.
Meanwhile, work will start after the land purchase on designs and cost estimates with construction documents probably done by next June.
A big new player in the project is the Fargo Park District Foundation, which was formed in 2014 but didn't really get rolling until late 2017. Most of the foundation board was at Tuesday's meeting, along with foundation Executive Director Brian Arett.
Park board Chairman Jerry Rostad said he hoped the two could work together more in the future and park board member Stacey Griggs said she felt it was a "huge step forward" to have the two groups connecting more and to have monthly reports.