NDSU's indoor football facility a marriage of speed and complicated construction
There have been the usual hiccups, but structure will open on time in October
FARGO — Painters were busy spraying the interior of North Dakota State’s new indoor football practice facility with more white paint than anybody could imagine. It won’t be long before the structure is enclosed and when finished in October, a complicated construction process will be complete.
Some houses take longer to build than the main phase of the $50 million Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex.
It’s the largest project Dan Walter, the senior project manager for Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, has ever taken on. He’s overseen some school and hospital projects, and likens the structure to some agricultural industry buildings, but nothing of this magnitude.
“It’s not too often you get to work on something of this size and scale and this wide open,” Walter said. “There’s not a single column in the middle interfering with any of the activities, so it’s pretty impressive.”
Walter is a 2010 NDSU graduate in construction management so he wears the Bison decals on his construction hard hat like a hometown guy. The Kraus-Anderson firm is no stranger to big projects; it built the Minnesota Vikings practice facility in Eagan, Minn.
NDSU’s indoor employed a panelized system of construction so when the materials arrived on site, workers could get them up in a relatively short amount of time. It’s a major reason a structure of such size can be built in about a year’s time.
“It took a lot of pre-planning to get to this point,” Walter said. “The wall panels are all precast so we were able to set those up in a matter of weeks. A lot of hard work, a lot of effort by a lot of trades here and it’s all coming together really well.”
The structure is using a window technology called Kalwall, which allows a glare-free light into the building to brighten the interior. Kalwall windows are thicker, more energy efficient and also double as an exterior structural material.
“They’re panelized so they’re able to go up relatively quickly, too,” Walter said.
The outdoor FieldTurf football practice field is in its final stages of installation. The two end zones and Bison logo at midfield will be the same as the ones at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The football program is slated to take it over on Aug. 5, although the hope is to move it up a day when fall practice begins on Aug. 4.
The turf will run into the indoor facility and thanks to seven large garage doors the space can have the feel of being open to two football fields.
“The overhead doors provide more lighting and make the interior space flow together with the exterior space,” Walter said. “You can open all these doors and pretty much use both spaces simultaneously.”
The second phase of the project on the west side is in the beginning stages of footings. Todd Phelps, NDSU’s deputy director of athletics, anticipates that it will be finished in the spring of 2023.
That part will mainly consist of a weight room, locker room and sports medicine facilities.
“They’ve been phenomenal for us, being on time and meeting deadlines, it’s all been fantastic,” Phelps said. “There are always hiccups along the way but they’ve found ways to keep things moving.”
Keeping things moving is a big part of Brandon Larkin’s job. He’s the project superintendent for Kraus-Anderson. For instance, a wet spring caused some issues in the construction timeline.
“You always have to have a Plan A and a Plan B,” Larkin said. “When Plan A is not going well, you can take that same contractor, manpower and put them somewhere else to continue progress moving forward.”
Crews this week are getting ready to install speaker and netting systems, the latter of which can get complicated. Netting will prevent balls from hitting the underside of the metal roof panel. There will also be netting systems for other sports like baseball and golf.
Phelps said NDSU is hoping for an Oct. 14 opening for the first phase. The Bison host South Dakota State on Oct. 15 in the Dakota Marker game.
“Nothing ever fits perfect but in the grand scheme of things and with the magnitude of the building here, everything went together fairly well,” Walter said.