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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 29 2010

Architect tries to blend old with new in Bison Sports Arena proposal

His architectural office building in downtown Fargo is a marriage of something old and something new – and that’s what Terry Stroh got with the Bison Sports Arena renovation project.

Only, it came with a twist. The something old at the BSA is a big white box that has very little aesthetic value anywhere in it. Stroh said the first issue his T.L. Stroh Architects and Interiors firm had to decide was whether to demolish it and start over.

They opted for gutting virtually the entire building, but saving about $10 million in steel and concrete.

The conceptual drawings were unveiled Monday as part of Sanford Health’s $10 million gift to the capital campaign. The arena is pegged at $29 million and a separate indoor track and field complex at $5 million.

If given the OK today to start a shovel in the ground, Stroh said all drawings could be completed in about two months. Some stuff has already changed from the current illustrations.

The color scheme of the exterior has not been chosen, but it will be insulated panels that can be custom colored. A club room may yet be changed to more offices and a small addition on the east side adjacent to North University Drive is going to be two stories instead of one.

Then there is what Stroh calls a “peer review” with 360 Architecture out of Kansas City, which did some earlier work on the design. The 360 firm is well-known in the industry for its work on sports stadiums.

“We’ll go talk to them and see if they can shoot any holes in the concept of our bowl,” Stroh said, referring to the stadium portion of the arena. “You’re talking about a company that all they do is sports facilities. They’re good at what they do.”

NDSU hired Stroh in 2006 for the BSA project. Having never designed a sports arena, he’s taken tours of other arenas with 360 architects – and out of that came a good chunk of the BSA that was revealed on Monday.

Support columns are in some places that are not preferred, but Stroh said the design did not have to be comprised because of them.

“Other than the columns, we got what we wanted and that is a good thing,” he said.

The weight room has a 40-meter workout track. The sports medicine area includes water therapy areas and an X-ray room. The arena floor will be lowered about 30 inches to give the mezzanine level more distance with the roof beams.

Acoustic panels with built-in lights will hang from the rafters to give what Stroh calls “a more intimate space” to the arena. The basketball locker rooms have elevated seating in front of the coaches’ white board.

The entire complex will be called the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. Design-wise, it’s been four years in the making, and there are still many decisions to be made.

Inforum searchword: Bison Sports Arena

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia