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Bison track project gets $2 million pledge from Stop-N-Go

FARGO - The Bison Sports Arena renovation project, which once looked stopped a few years ago, is now a go again. Stop-N-Go put its corporate stamp on the indoor track and field facility on Wednesday.

FARGO - The Bison Sports Arena renovation project, which once looked stopped a few years ago, is now a go again. Stop-N-Go put its corporate stamp on the indoor track and field facility on Wednesday.

The company pledged $2 million toward the total $32 million campaign, and the results may be a reality this fall. If all goes well, the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track and Field Facility, which will be a separate building from the BSA, may break ground in October.

It will be named for the former owner of Stop-N-Go, who died last year. He also has his name on the Ellig Sports Complex that is home to the outdoor track and field, softball and soccer teams.

It was an up-and-down two days for head men's track coach Don Larson, who spoke at the memorial service on Tuesday for Lyle Hokanson. The assistant equipment manager at the BSA was the only track and field meet announcer the program has ever known.

"I know Lyle would have liked to have been here today," Larson said.

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The 78,000-square foot building will be an eight-lane track with a seating capacity of 1,000. Also planned are multiple long jump, triple jump and pole vault runways along with a shot put and weight throw sector.

"I've spent many days at practice wondering what it would be like to have a stand-alone facility," said women's head track and field coach Ryun Godfrey. "Many times I've seen it as a far-away dream, but now I can see it is 'this' close. I think we take this (program) to an even higher level."

The facility will also be netted for baseball, softball and golf practice. Once completed, focus will turn to the BSA arena and basketball practice complex.

Athletic director Gene Taylor said $20 million of the $32 million needed for the entire project has been raised.

The Stop-N-Go announcement was made by owners Sheila Carney and Henry Knoll, who said Ellig instilled in them the importance of giving back to the community. The latest donation pushes the total gift amount from the Ellig name to the current campaign to $3 million.

"That will be our continued mission going toward the future," Carney said.

NDSU will present its track and field plans to the state Board of Higher Education on Sept. 8 for approval to go forward. Taylor said he would like a construction firm selected by October and footings in the ground before winter.

If that happens, the completion date would be sometime next summer.

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Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

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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