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Crawford in the News:

Bison athletics unveils completed wish list in football indoor facility

The $54 million project a one-stop shop for North Dakota State football practice amenities


Posted: September 8, 2023 04:04 PM


NDSU wide receiver Chris Harris checks out his space in the locker room of the new We B Giving Foundation Bison Athletics Operation Center. David Samson/The Forum

FARGO — The look on Tom Blattner’s face when asked about the finished product of the Nodak Insurance Football Performance Center was worth 54 million words, which happens to equal the cost of the facility in dollars. A wish list of amenities for the North Dakota State football program was officially unveiled on Friday afternoon.

The main practice arena of the venue opened last fall, with the other half of the building taking until this month to be completed.

“Just absolutely amazing,” Blattner said. “Never dreamed anything like this would ever be here.”

It was a $15 million contribution from Blattner’s “We Be Giving Foundation” that allowed the athletic department to combine Phase 1 and Phase 2 of construction into one continuous project, which was entirely externally funded. The We B Giving Bison Athletics Operations Center includes a weight room, sports medicine room, football locker room, team meeting room, offices and a multipurpose space called the “Legacy Lounge.”

Tom Blattner snaps a photo at the We B Giving Foundation Bison Athletics Operation Center. Tom and Dawn Blatnner pledged $15 million for the facility that o ers year-round training for Bison student-athletes. David Samson/The Forum

How it stacks up with the rest of college football is an educated guess but all involved in the project who visited other facilities say there can’t be many that are better. What separates NDSU’s facility, said athletic director Matt Larsen, is the all-encompassing amenities being under one roof.

“At the FSC level, I haven’t seen one,” Larsen said. “There may be a handful in the country that would say ours is better but there’s not many. They might have a really, really nice indoor practice facility, but don’t have some of these components. It was really important for us to try to make it as efficient for our players as we can.”

Larsen said it helped that designers Crawford Architects out of Kansas City and Foss Architects & Interiors of Fargo built similar projects across the country.

“It’s one thing to have all these spaces, but to have them designed so well,” Larsen said. “These are the things that when you talk about recruits or donors, it’s the wow factor that you want to see. And this has a wow factor on top of wow factor in so many ways. I don’t think there’s anything where we were saying we should have done this or wish we had this.”

NDSU Athletic Director Matt Larsen walks through the weight room in the new We B Giving Foundation Bison Athletics Operation Center. David Samson/The Forum

The locker room is as modern as it gets. In general, players will use it during the season Monday through Thursday before moving to the Fargodome for game day. Separate men’s and women’s day locker rooms are for use by other sports.

Most areas have a direct connection to the indoor field, with the weight room having large glass garage doors that open directly to the field. The Legacy Room on the second floor, big enough to host a football team meal or a Team Makers event for 800 people that is scheduled this month, has windows to the weight room and practice field.

The football-specific weight room does more than just give players direct access to the practice fields. Taking the players out of the current weight room at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex frees up that room more for other sports.

It’s yet another step up for strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer, who over the years has been more about the sweat and tears than the glitz and glitter.

Asked if it was almost too nice, Larsen said Kramer “does a good job of grounding our guys. I think if you ask a lot of our guys, this is not an expectation for them and I think they’re appreciative of what they have.”

Jeff Kolpack


To read on the Inform site, visit: Inforum Bison Athletics Unveils Completed Wish List Article



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