New practice field impressive to older Bison football players
NDSU conducts first practice on field that will eventually connect to indoor facility
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.
“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.
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.
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.”