It was the first phase of a project that you knew was coming sooner or later. The NDSU indoor football practice facility unanimously got through the budget and finance committee of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education on Tuesday. The big hurdle is next week when the full board will get a say, although the fact the entire $37.2 million will be privately raised by NDSU leads you to believe it should be more of a formality, especially with UND having already built one.
NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen did not want to address the project in detail, yet, saying he would prefer to wait for the approval process to play out first. He must have done some research on the confusion and headaches past Bison athletic administrations have had with elected and appointed state leaders. There’s no question the NDSU athletic department has to lay low in the weeds when it comes to proposing big-money projects, even if they are entirely externally funded.
There are a few questions yet to be answered, like the exact location. Will that large of a structure fit within the framework of the western-most practice field south of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex? Will the road immediately to the west of the practice fields have to be moved farther west? (Update, an NDSU spokesperson says the road will “tentatively” stay but they are not certain yet since there are no firm or final drawings). With locker room space included in the proposal, does that mean NDSU football will have two locker rooms? Will the weight room be a supplement to the training space in the SHAC or will that be the exclusive home to football weight training? How tall? What kind of artificial turf? Will there be garage-type doors to open it up during nice weather? Where will the statue of Craig Bohl go? The fact a figure as precise as $37.2 million has been pinpointed leads you to believe a lot of details have already been hammered out.
The big question, of course, is timeline. A shovel will not be going into the ground next month, but my guess is it won’t drag out, either.
“The formal fundraising for the NDSU indoor practice facility would begin after receiving approval from the State Board of Higher Education,” said Sadie Rudolph, the media relations coordinator/university relations for NDSU.
Most if not all of the funding needs to be secured first, but the football program is one where the big-cash donors have a willingness to give. The popular theory points to Carson Wentz (the AO1 Center?), but he’s still in his first contract and there are plenty of other lead-type donors out there. Perhaps if Carson gets a Kirk Cousins type of deal some day he could be in the ballpark, but probably not now. I’ll put it out there right now: Construction will begin in the summer of 2019.