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UND to build new sports facility

GRAND FORKS -- A historic University of North Dakota athletics building is scheduled to be demolished this summer in order to make room for what school officials hope will be another significant structure on campus.

The old Ralph Engelstad Arena will be razed to pave the way for the UND Athletics High Performance Center -- or more commonly known as the indoor practice facility.

As of Thursday, stakes were in the ground to mark underground piping and fence posts were in place to eventually rope off the construction site.

"We've received approval to proceed with the demolition," UND athletic director Brian Faison said. "The funding is in place and the construction for Phase I of the facility will begin as soon as the demolition is done."

UND hopes to have demolition work completed by the end of the summer.

The old Ralph Engelstad Arena, which housed UND hockey from 1972 to 2001, sits adjacent to Memorial Stadium, just off the corner of Second Avenue North and Columbia Road.

Phase I of the indoor practice facility -- a nearly $20 million undertaking -- consists of a 100-yard football field and an eight-lane, 300-meter track. Phase I also includes spectator seating for approximately 1,500.

If funding is secured for Phase II, that would house an academic center, as well as space for sports medicine and strength and conditioning.

The timetable for completion of the indoor practice facility's first phase hinges on the weather, Faison said.

The demolition process will take place in stages, he added.

"As I understand, they're trying to salvage and remove certain materials," Faison said.

UND announced that Campus Road will close this week between Memorial Stadium and the EERC Hydrogen Facility. According to the announcement, the site will be fenced off, while signage and barricades will be installed. The road will remain closed indefinitely.

"This is a game-changer," Faison said. "This spring is the absolute example of why this facility is necessary. It will have an incredible impact on UND athletics."

The facility is expected to attract area teams, as well. The track, for example, could host high school or Division II meets.