Lawmakers OK raising $16 million for DSU stadium

BISMARCK -- Legislators gave a go-ahead Tuesday for Dickinson State University to raise $16 million to remodeling Whitney Stadium and an adjacent arena building.

BISMARCK -- Legislators gave a go-ahead Tuesday for Dickinson State University to raise $16 million to remodeling Whitney Stadium and an adjacent arena building.

The large committee known as the Budget Section signed off on the request after DSU originally had the approval to raise $8 million. But community and municipal groups are now joining project and discussing a more useful project.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers also approved new presidents' houses at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University, despite some legislators' skepticism.

Both will be built with private, not state, funds, and cost about $900,000. Both existing presidents' houses are to be demolished and replaced on the same sites.

Five committee members voted against UND's house and four voted "no" on the NDSU house.


The UND house will be about the same size as the current one, which is 55 years old, but more efficient. A new one will "reduce dramatically" the cost to upkeep, said Rick Tonder, UND's associate director of facilities.

The NDSU house, about 60 years old, is sound but can't be remodeled to solve layout problems that prevent hosting large gatherings - which is part of a president's job.

"Why does the University of North Dakota president need a $900,000 house?" asked Rep. Larry Bellew, R-Minot, who voted against both houses.

"We're not making a palace," Tonder said, adding the current house would cost as much to build now.

Sen. Aaron Krauter, D-Regent, asked if the two universities' sizeable coffers create unfair disparities among campuses when some can't raise as much money.

"The point is well taken that it can create the haves and have-nots," said Laura Glatt, vice chancellor for administrative affairs at the North Dakota University System. But she said system-wide and among the individual campuses, "one campus would not suggest we hold back another campus."

Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, said he didn't see how new presidents' houses benefit students.

Glatt and Tim O'Keefe, UND foundation director, said newer facilities can help attract better presidential candidates for UND's current search, which benefits the whole state. Consultants told them the current house is a liability in the search, he said.


Delzer and House Minority Leader Merle Boucher, D-Rolette, questioned whether the Budget Section was taking control of a task that should be the full Legislature's.

But Budget Section Chairman Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said the Legislature passed a law allowing campuses to seek approval from the Budget Section to spend non-public funds for such projects.

Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, told critics the Legislature has encouraged the campuses to raise funds creatively for things the Legislature can't or doesn't want to fund.

"I hope we will not punish them for being creative," she said.

Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, said he was disappointed to see the request come to the legislators so quickly after NDSU officials said they wouldn't seek the OK until they were further along in the planning.

John Adams, NDSU vice president of finance and administration, said the State Board of Higher Education told NDSU to bring its request in at the same time as UND's.

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