Dome expansion: What to do

It was interesting to say the least to listen to Fargo architect Terry Stroh go through various future expansion possibilities at the Fargodome on Wednesday, with options ranging from rather basic (adding bathrooms mainly) to the very cool (the structure pictured above) addition to the west side. Here is my story. It would include more banquet room space than the current east side addition, a rooftop patio, bathrooms, suites overlooking the field and club room space. Constructed over Albrecht Avenue, the lower level would be a climate controlled space that could be enclosed with garage doors. The white pillars seen on the street entrance would be capable of going up or down depending on if the that part of the facility is in use.

The difference, of course, is the cost. The high-end model picture here is estimated at $21.5 million and would be paid for be the dome reserve fund which is around $35 million or north of that. The trigger in all of this is the proposed convention center in Fargo and whether it will be built downtown or adjacent to the dome. My guess if it goes downtown, than the dome will probably, and should, sway toward the higher end cost of the addition in an effort to stay current. If the convention center is connected to the south end of the dome, than perhaps a less expensive west side addition would be in order. At its most basic, it would include bathrooms that could be closed off to the rest of the dome but accessible by tailgaters.

My preference would be this: If the convention center is built on to the dome, I would go with this option, which includes suites in the dome, the canopy over Albrecht Avenue with that climate controlled space that can be used by tailgating, boat shows, ag shows or whatever. Stroh said radiant heat would make it comfortable even in 20 to 30 degree days. Approximate cost: $13.9 million. Of interest: Albrecht Avenue by the dome is not claimed by the city or the dome (it’s just sort of there I guess) so there apparently would be no issues of closing it off at times.

If the convention center goes downtown, spend the money. Go with the castle version at the top of this post. It’s been proven in America over and over that if you build it, they will come. The best thing Fargo ever did was build the dome and it’s the next generation’s job to keep it one of the top venues in the Midwest.

Football fans will wonder about seating. Stroh and Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik looked at all viable options and at best said the most that could be added would be around 1,200. That would be enough. I’m of the mindset that you don’t add seats when you’re smack dab in a dynasty; wait a few years and see what happens. Fargo will never be a major FBS school and around 20,000 capacity will suit this school just fine for many years to come.

Also, to answer a couple of reader questions: new video boards are being phased in as part of an overall video upgrade. We will get into more detail with all of this Saturday morning on Kolpack and Izzo when Sobolik joins us in studio at 10 a.m. on WDAY-AM or

A good natured NDSU-ISU family time

Last week we ran a story on Illinois State graduate Terry Delaney, who is an NDSU Team Maker and season ticket holder. He wasn’t the only one with conflicts.

Last weekend, the Scholl family had similar thoughts. ISU graduate Julie Scholl (far left) is from North Dakota and her father attended NDSU. She has a host of family members who are NDSU fans, including Fargo North graduate Steve Ratti (far right). Well, they tailgated in peace together at Toyota Stadium before the FCS title game. In the end, Julie’s uncle, Frank Ratti from Fargo, won a bet on the winner gets a cap of the winning team.





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The No. 1 ‘drive?’ You tell us

Brock Jensen celebrates vs. K-State

NDSU’s drive on Saturday that started with just over a minute remaining and ended with Carson Wentz scoring from the 5-yard line that gave the Bison their fourth straight FCS title will go down in the history books. But where does it rank? Below are what I believe to be the top 10 “drives” in the Division I history of the program. Curious to see how you rank them. Or, are there any others not listed?

  • NDSU’s win over Illinois State in 2014 FCS title game
  • Georgia Southern semifinal in 2012
  • The 80-yard bomb that beat Cal Poly in 2007
  • The last drive that capped a 24-point comeback against Davis in 2006
  • The winning march against Ball State in 2006
  • The Kansas State long, methodical march last season
  • The SDSU playoff game this year, ending with pass to Urzendowski
  • The Steve Walker and Kole Heckendorf ’07 miracle against Sam Houston
  • The 2007 drive vs. Minnesota that ran out the clock
  • The 2013 game-winner vs. UNI that erased a 23-10 deficit

John Majeski  scores the game winner at UC Davis, completing a rally from 24 down

Top 10 plays of 2014: No. 1

(Note: As part of our coverage of the FCS Championship game, we are counting down the top 10 plays of the 2014 season.)
No. 1 is pretty easy, it was a game-winning play in the final minute in a big game against an inter-state rival school. NDSU trailed South Dakota State 24-20 in the second round of the FCS playoffs when the Bison got the ball at the Jackrabbit 24-yard line with just under three minutes remaining. This was Carson Wentz’s chance to show what Brock Jensen did in his time at NDSU: drive his team to a victory. A 29-yard pass to freshman R.J. Urzendowski got the Bison to the SDSU 21, but that wasn’t the biggest play for those two. A pass interference call on the Jacks gave the Bison a first-and-goal at the 5, but an illegal procedure penalty moved it back to the 12. But on second down, Wentz’s perfect toss to Urzendowski in the corner of the end zone stamped both players’ names in Bison postseason history with 54 seconds left, and NDSU took a 27-24 win.

Top 10 plays of 2014: No. 2

(Note: As part of our coverage of the FCS Championship game, we are counting down the top 10 plays of the 2014 season.)
John Crockett showed his explosiveness in the season opener at Iowa State. He showed it again on ESPN prime time in the FCS playoffs, this time with a 70-yard touchdown run that got the Bison rolling against Coastal Carolina. That wouldn’t be the first time he delivered. No. 2 comes when the Bison needed it the most: his 45-yard touchdown run midway in the fourth quarter that snapped a 32-31 Coastal lead. The Chanticleers were a different team this time around in the playoffs and had visions of the upset at the Fargodome, until Crockett erased NDSU’s first deficit of the game taking a handoff to the left side, finding daylight and outsprinting the CCU secondary down the left sideline. In these top 10 plays, it’s not so much the dazzling play but when the big play was made. Note: NCAA restrictions prohibit us from using playoff video.

Top 10 plays of 2014: No. 4

(Note: We’re counting down the top 10 plays of the NDSU football season as part of our FCS Championship coverage.)
Iowa State looked like a Big 12 Conference team playing an FCS foe when it took a 14-0 lead on NDSU in the season opener, the second touchdown on a drive that took just two plays to go 51 yards early in the second quarter. In perhaps one of the biggest booster-cable plays of the season for NDSU, John Crockett turned the tide of the game on the Bison’s first play following the kickoff. Getting a big kickout block from guard Austin Kuhnert, on a play where the Bison had both fullbacks in the game — Jedre Cyr led the initial surge of blocking after Andrew Bonnet went in motion as more of a tight end, and he helped take care of a Cyclone safety, Crockett found plenty of space up the middle and outran the Cyclone secondary for the touchdown. It was the first six points of 34 unanswered that got NDSU’s season off to a start in a big way.

Top 10 Bison plays of 2014: No. 6

(Note: As part of our coverage of the FCS national title game, we’re counting down the top 10 Bison plays of the year).
No. 6 provided one of the more entertaining post-game press conferences of the year when Bison running back John Crockett was not shy about joking about his arm strength. “Johnny Rocket the rocket ball,” he said. It was in reference to his 16-yard halfback pass to Carson Wentz that tied it up at Western Illinois 10-10 early in the fourth quarter in a hard-fought 17-10 NDSU win. The Bison struggled for a good chunk of the day before finally breaking through. Wentz handed the ball off to Crockett on an apparent sweep right, but Crockett pulled up and rifled a pass to a wide open Wentz for the score.

Why the Redbirds are heading to Frisco

Five reasons Illinois State made the FCS national championship game:

  • 1. Brock Spack.

Now in his sixth season, it’s been a steady climb for the Redbirds under his leadership. The first step winning – he became the first coach to lead the Redbirds to three straight winning seasons for the first time since 1950. The second step was beating Appalachian State on the road in the 2012 playoffs before seeing their season end at Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals. That didn’t happen this year; it was the Redbirds who ended EWU’s season in that same round. Spack brought a Division I pedigree to ISU after spending 12 years as the defensive coordinator at Purdue.


  • 2. Tre Roberson

The Redbirds thought they had the quarterback of the future last year with freshman Blake Winkler, a Missouri Valley all-newcomer team pick. But junior Tre Roberson transferred from Indiana over the summer and Spack declared the position up for grabs heading into fall camp. Roberson won the battle and has been a fixture since. The 6-foot, 205-pound Roberson was the first true freshman to start at quarterback in IU history, but left after starting four games last season. He’s a dual threat throwing for over 3,000 yards and rushing for almost 900. He has especially been effective in the last four games, three of which were playoff games, throwing for 1,185 yards, nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.


  • 3. Marshaun Coprich

The 5-foot-9, 205-pound junior running back had just 58 yards on 20 carries last year when the Bison defeated the Redbirds 28-10 at the Fargodome. Containing Coprich wasn’t stopped by anybody all season until 79 yards in the semifinals against New Hampshire. The Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year went over 100 yards in all prior 13 games with a high of 258 in the quarterfinals against Eastern Washington.


  • 4. Improved defense.

It’s a veteran unit starting five seniors and five juniors that has been tough in clutch situations this season. Junior middle linebacker Pat Meehan is the leader with 103 tackles. The Redbirds had the second-best rushing defense in the Missouri Valley behind Northern Iowa and were third in scoring defense behind UNI and NDSU. There’s also some depth in the secondary; 10 different Redbirds have picked off passes this season. There are secondary factors with a good defense, like giving kicker Nick Aussieker more opportunities with his foot – he’s the program’s all-time leading scorer.


  • 5. Improved facilities.

Hancock Stadium opened in 1963, but received a much-needed $20 million renovation that included the opening of a new east side grandstand complex last season. It gives a completely modern view of the stadium from the adjacent Main Street, not so mention new suites and boxes to serve the big donors. And when it comes to recruiting, it never hurts to have a nice look to attract players. The Redbirds have been tough at home, too, in the last two years winning 13 straight with the last loss 38-20 to NDSU in 2012.

Top 10 Bison football plays of 2014: Number 8

(Note: As part of our coverage of the FCS national title game, we’re counting down the top 10 Bison plays of the year).

No. 8 was not so much of a stunning, game-changing play but more of a statement. NDSU was leading 7-0 over Youngstown State at the Fargodome late in the first quarter, a touchdown on a pass from Carson Wentz to Zach Vraa thanks to a Christian Dudzik forced fumble and a Carlton Littlejohn recovery. Another Dudzik play, an interception and return to the Penguins’ 20-yard line put the Bison in prime position. On the second play, Wentz set the tone for the rest of the day, a 17-yard touchdown run where instead of running out of bounds near the goal line he literally ran over a Penguin defensive back and into the end zone. YSU was hit in the mouth and never recovered in a 38-14 Bison win. “We saw some things on tape where we could utilize Carson in the running game more,” head coach Chris Klieman said in his post-game press conference. “He wasn’t going to be denied a victory for these seniors today.”

Top 10 NDSU football plays of 2014: No. 10

(Note: As part of our coverage of the FCS national title game, we’re counting down the top 10 Bison plays of the year).

No. 10 wasn’t so much of a game-changing play as it was a sign that Carson Wentz showed he had the athletic ability to assume control of the Bison offense. Early in the third quarter against Iowa State, with the Bison offense in control after the Cyclones grabbed a 14-0 lead, Wentz took off for a 20-yard run that included leaping an ISU defender. It was an impressive sight considering Wentz is 6-foot-6 and a play that showed he had some speed, too. Wentz finished averaging 4.8 yards per carry and completed 18 of 28 passes for 204 yards in the 34-14 NDSU win. After four years of Brock Jensen, it was clear the Bison had somebody to be the successor.