NDSU athletic director blown away by size of new indoor football complex
Construction on schedule for $50 million project that will dwarf surrounding buildings in size.
FARGO — It’s not as if anybody will see the following on Facebook marketplace. For sale: used indoor bubble, 360 x 180 feet, some imperfections but still usable. Maybe.
Sometime toward the end of April or the beginning of May, the North Dakota State indoor bubble will come down for the last time with destination unknown. Also unknown is if it has any value.
“It’s state property, something that could go to surplus if a buyer or somebody is interested,” said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. “If not, maybe some pieces of it are salvageable. I know there are a lot of people who can’t wait to take it down for the last time.”
The days of putting it up in the fall and taking it down in the spring are over with the new $50 million Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex in the early stages of construction. Even Larsen, who was on the ground floor of the planning, is taken aback by the size of it.
Motorists driving by North University Drive will notice the facility dwarfing the neighboring Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
“Massive is the best way I can describe it,” Larsen said. “I’ve been staring at two-dimensional drawings for a long time and it’s 75 feet high (on paper). But to see it … a massive, massive complex.”
The steel columns and beams and precast concrete walls going up are phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 will be incorporated into the ongoing construction, although there is still some approval work yet to be completed with the North Dakota legislative budget committee.
NDSU obtained approval in 2018 to begin fundraising for the $37.2 million first phase and will ask for approval of the remaining funds for phase 2 on March 30.
A $15 million gift in December from NDSU graduate Tom Blattner quickly put the university over the top in reaching the $50 million goal. The latter phase includes a locker room, weight room, training room and equipment room. All funds have been externally raised.
Construction on a storage warehouse on the southeast side of the main structure is expected to begin soon. Larsen said grading the outdoor surface for artificial turf should also begin this spring.
The entire project is on schedule, he said, although the timeline for the start of Bison football practice in August could be touchy. NDSU may not be able to use the indoor field for most of August.
“They’re moving, every day something changes,” Larsen said.
Meanwhile, with the indoor bubble permanently going away, the athletic department is planning some minor renovations to Dacotah Field to make it even more of a complete home to the Bison soccer program. They include new lights and renovating the press box.