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New practice field impressive to older Bison football players

NDSU conducts first practice on field that will eventually connect to indoor facility

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North Dakota State players stretch out during practice on the new turf at the Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — There were a couple of occasional shouting matches and minor skirmishes between offensive and defensive linemen Friday at North Dakota State’s second football practice of the season. That was about it for old school, however.

Everything else was like a shiny new car when the Bison took to their new practice field adjacent to the Nodak Mutual Football Performance Complex. The indoor facility is in the final couple of months of construction.

The outdoor field got its first workout.

“All of us old guys were saying it doesn’t really feel like camp because it doesn’t have the old feel of being out here on the grass fields,” said senior defensive end Spencer Waege. “So just being out here with the new facility, everything just feels spoiled and like I said, didn’t really feel like camp today.”

NDSU installed an artificial practice field several years ago but that was removed to make way for the new project. It’s a far different look than the old three grass practice fields that stood on the site for many years like when offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl played for the Bison, finishing his career in 2008.

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North Dakota State offensive lineman grind out drills during practice on the new turf at the Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

“I was talking with coach Roehl before practice, we’re just too spoiled,” said left tackle Cody Mauch. “He was telling us what he had when he was playing. No, we’re definitely pretty spoiled now.”

The indoor field of the $50 million project is expected to be completed by mid-October. The entire facility is targeting a spring finish date, with the last to be completed being a locker room, sports medicine area, recruiting room and offices.

“It always looked sweet from afar,” Waege said. “But seeing this up close, it’s way better.”

The FieldTurf practice field received its final touches on Thursday. It includes new lights that will replace the portable ones that were brought into the practice field in late fall when practice would finish after the sun went down.

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North Dakota State punter Kaedin Steindorf and teammates get to work during practice on the new turf at the Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex on Friday, August 5, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

NDSU still needs two practice fields for the most part and is using Dacotah Field, the home turf of the Bison soccer team.

When the indoor is finished, NDSU will have the equivalent of about 2 1/2 practice football fields.

“Every time we drive down University and we see it being put up, we’re like, man this thing is going to be huge,” Mauch said. “And it’s definitely pretty huge. … This wasn’t even a thought six years ago. It’s just cool to see the program progress like this.”

It will be the first year NDSU will not have a grass practice field, but grass game fields in college football are becoming rare. Every Missouri Valley Football Conference team plays on turf.

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North Dakota State defensive backs gear up for practice on the new turf at the Nodak Insurance Football Performance Complex on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

The only grass field NDSU has played on in recent years is at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, in the NCAA Division I FCS national title game.

“We’re on turf all the time,” Waege said. “We don’t play anywhere in our conference or anywhere for that matter that still plays on a grass field. So the last how many years of always having to do a team session on the grass field, we just never had to play on grass. So being on turf the whole time I think helps a lot.”

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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