NDSU arena plans are taking shape
North Dakota State is warming up for another run at renovating the Bison Sports Arena. Plans have been completed and fundraising has started for a project that has a base price of $8 million and comes fully equipped at about $16 million. A target...
North Dakota State is warming up for another run at renovating the Bison Sports Arena.
Plans have been completed and fundraising has started for a project that has a base price of $8 million and comes fully equipped at about $16 million.
A target date will depend on funding. The project is part of a $75 million university capital campaign.
"If we get a big check, we'll do it tomorrow," said athletic director Gene Taylor.
It's the third try in the last six years at revamping the structure that opened in 1970 for $3.1 million.
Former athletic director Bob Entzion started a feasibility study in 1999 with a goal of renovating the basketball portion of the arena.
Two years later, a project analysis compiled by five fifth-year NDSU architecture students got a serious look from the NDSU administration. The proposal included a new weight room, chair-back bleachers, a public entrance area called "The Link" and more office space. It was estimated at $10 million.
The current plan has been in the works since last summer when Taylor discussed the concept at a Fargo Dome Authority meeting.
Central to renovating the arena are pull-out chairback bleachers that will replace wooden bleachers surrounding the basketball floor.
Also in the works: new indoor track, locker rooms, rest rooms and concession areas. Taylor said $8 million would get the majority of work done.
An expansion - probably to the south or east - would include a new weight room and basketball practice facility. Suites in the old press box also are on the wish list.
"It's necessary for us," head men's basketball coach Tim Miles said of the proposal. "As we moved up to Division I, there is no question our facility is lacking."
Miles said the primary reason for the renovation is to provide a better learning environment for practice, better meeting rooms and a locker room, and a better facility to aid in recruiting.
The environment for the athletic department staff is also lacking because the weight room is directly above them on the concourse. Vibrations from weights being dropped have knocked pictures off of walls.
Head women's basketball coach Amy Ruley points to a lack of space. She said the women's basketball locker room was originally a custodial area.
"When (it) was built, there was no intention of women's athletics in the building," she said. "It was a men's facility."
Ruley, who just completed her 26th season, said the fact that the renovation is included in the university's capital campaign is a good sign something will be done.
"I think there's a little more thought put into this one on what our needs are," she said. "It makes a lot of sense."
Taylor said cost is the main reason for remodeling the arena rather than building a new one, which he said could cost at least $25 million.
"Even if we built something, we would still have to fix this," he said.
A top-of-the-line renovation would benefit the men's and women's track and field programs. Taylor said a hydraulic track, a system that banks the track's corners, is being considered.
Taylor called this plan "more focused" than the 2002 model. He said fundraising will become more of a priority now that the increased operational expenditures for NDSU's move to Division I have been questioned.
"It's preliminary, but we're pretty solid on what direction we want to go with the building," Taylor said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546