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DSU Heritage Foundation talks possible sports structure

During the latest Dickinson State University Heritage Foundation meeting, a very new topic of conversation rose up among the more typical talk of fundraising and scholarships: A bubble.

During the latest Dickinson State University Heritage Foundation meeting, a very new topic of conversation rose up among the more typical talk of fundraising and scholarships: A bubble.

A sports bubble used for athletic practices and events, to be specific.

Though DSU Heritage Foundation Executive Director Ty Orton cautioned that the idea was “in its infancy” and has not taken any definitive steps forward, he brought the concept of an inflated, multi-purpose dome to the foundation’s board as a possible future project.

“There are people that are saying they are very interested in this,” Orton said, adding a group of four prospective donors had come forward with the idea. “Money would have to be in-hand before anything starts. ... One thing we need to start thinking about is how are we going to continue to grow, how are we going to continue to help.”  

The bubble could house a 400-meter track encircling a soccer field. Orton said an air structure of that size would cost around $2.15 million and would have a 30-year lifespan. With a turf field and running track, total costs would run up to $5 million. A structure built to house a 300-meter track would cost about $1 million less, he said.

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The placement of any bubble is still an open question, Orton said. He added that money in-hand would have to be in the vicinity of 80 percent before such a project could seriously proceed.

DSU President Tom Mitzel pointed out that the mission of the new foundation is “first and foremost to raise student scholarships” and lend support to student affairs, but spoke favorably about the concept of a dome.

“Any project that is different than a scholarship would have to be in addition to the scholarships, not in lieu of scholarships, we’re very careful when we talk to people about that,” Mitzel said. “There’s just a tremendous amount of interest, and something like this benefits the entire city and region as well as DSU.”

DSU Heritage Foundation board President Tom Arnold said a bubble of the kind discussed could “certainly enhance” the university’s recruitment activities.

Orton said at least one of the potential donors that had come forward had been asked about possibly purchasing the old DSU Foundation house for the new foundation, but had declined.

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