Bison facilities showing signs of bringing programs to Division I standards
FARGO -- It was a view that back in the day only the high-wire acts in the circus got. Walk around the Scheels Center upper concourse and the ceiling beams of the old Bison Sports Arena are only about 12 feet above you.It's still under constructi...
FARGO - It was a view that back in the day only the high-wire acts in the circus got. Walk around the Scheels Center upper concourse and the ceiling beams of the old Bison Sports Arena are only about 12 feet above you.
It’s still under construction as part of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex renovation project, but the crux of the facility is starting to come into focus. A couple sections of chairback stands have been installed in a couple of corners and about the only visible remnants of the old BSA are the old chairs on the west side.
Even those will be replaced, which was recently finalized.
The project is still on target for an early November grand opening when the Bison men’s and women’s basketball teams have their home openers. NDSU coaches and administrators are hoping to move into their wing in late July or early August.
The weight training section of the complex is expected to also be ready by then. Besides the basketball practice facility that is already completed, that part of the project looks to be closest to being finished.
So does a “fueling station,” a food and nutrition hub next to the weight training areas. It was added to the project after it began thanks to recent NCAA legislation that allows schools to pay for more of an athlete’s food needs.
“They spend so much time here that we don’t want to have them leave with a bacon double cheeseburger on the way out,” said athletic director Matt Larsen.
The future plan is to hire a part-time or full-time nutritionist.
When completed, there won’t be much difference in the modern amenities with the SHAC and other Division I facilities across the country, other than perhaps size. The arena capacity will be 5,700. The student-athlete academic areas like a studying center, private tutor rooms, study halls and commons area is bigger than originally planned.
“That really resonates with recruits’ parents,” Larsen said.
Every sport will have a locker room in the SHAC with the exception of football (Fargodome) and volleyball (Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse). For the last two years, most of the programs have pretty much functioned on their own.
Over 100,000 square feet has been added to the old BSA with additions of some sort on all four sides. To the east on the upper concourse overlooking the arena is hospitality space with a capacity of between 100 and 125 people. Drive by the SHAC on University Drive and the large windows are strikingly visible.
Eventually, Larsen would like to add a full-service kitchen to the facility so it can host some large scale events that are currently held off campus, like the Bidders Bowl or Harvest Bowl. Winter commencement will return to the facility.
The wrestling practice area is expected to compete with Big 12 Conference programs, a league the Bison joined for that sport this season. One floor above that is space slated for a golf chipping and putting facility.
The centerpiece, the Scheels Center, however will be the main seller to fans.
“They’ll be pretty close to the action,” Larsen said of the seating configuration, “or at least as close as you can get to the action.”