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BAC about ready

Press Photo by Ashley Martin Jeff Haag, an electrician with Denny's Electric, wires the Badlands Activities Center on Friday.

After months of work, the $16 million Badlands Activities Center will open June 1 and some residents still have mixed feelings about the facility.

The BAC replaces Dickinson State University's Whitney Stadium, which was demolished in March 2009 to make way for the BAC. The new facility will be used for sporting events and includes space for a variety of events, including private parties, receptions and trade shows.

"The anticipated date for having the construction company turn everything over to us is May 7," said Constance Walter, DSU director of university relations. "That means that the building is officially done."

The official dedication will be on Sept. 25, during the college's homecoming, she added.

Construction is on track, said Casey Jackson, project manager for Mortenson Construction.

He said most of what's left to complete includes painting, flooring and wiring.

"The track and field are complete and the grandstands will be complete by the end of the month, so they'll have everything they need for the track meet," Jackson said.

Those watching events held at BAC have been using portable bleachers, chairs and blankets since the grandstands are still under construction.

The first track event is April 9, Walter said. However, the actual building will not yet be open.

"The first athletic event that we will have after the opening is the Montana-Dakota Bowl and that will be June 19," Walter said. "When we say the first official event, we mean in the completely finished facility."

Opinions of the Dickinson Watchdogs, a local group who spoke out against funding the BAC, have not changed, said Tim Beaudoin, group organizer.

"We felt the taxpayer should not have been used on this project and donations would have been sufficient," Beaudoin said. "I'm no legislator, but if they would have gone to the state and were persistent and went to the state Legislature and asked for funds, it could have been granted."

Features which have been added to the building for aesthetic value were unnecessary, Beaudoin said.

"What matters is if it's functional and yeah, I think it will be functional, but something scaled down would have been functional, too," he said. "It's gone beyond being functional. It's gone to the point of adding amenities that tax the people, and for what?"

Kevin Thompson, chief executive officer of the DSU Foundation, said DSU officials are pleased with the progress.

"We're just excited to be this far and looking forward to the opening and getting people through the facility and using it to the fullest," Thompson said.