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Eric Peterson, Published October 11 2010

Concordia pleased with initial updates

Concordia has raised more than half of the $5.5 million needed for the school’s Jake Christiansen athletic complex upgrade.

Athletic director Larry Papenfuss said $3 million has been raised and he hopes that fundraising for the project is complete sometime during the next school year.

“We feel really good about it,” Papenfuss said. “It’s been a real tribute to our donors that in this tough economic time, we have stayed on track with our fundraising.”

The project’s first phase, which started last spring and cost $2.3 million, is virtually complete.

New turf on the football and baseball fields and paved parking lots were included in the first part of the project. Papenfuss said the new FieldTurf has already paid dividends, especially the turf at Jake Christiansen Stadium.

“It far exceeded our expectations in terms of increasing use of that facility,” Papenfuss said. “We easily increased the use of that field probably at least tenfold more than we have in the past.”

The second phase of the project – which has a price tag of $800,000 – is set for next summer. Adding lights to the football field is the main part of that phase.

Papenfuss said the school had numerous requests for high school teams to use the football field this fall, but couldn’t accommodate those requests because the field didn’t have lights.

“Our problem right now is that we don’t have lights,” Papenfuss said. “The next step here of getting lights would really benefit our community partners, too, of being able to use it.”

Fargo Oak Grove is using Jake Christiansen Stadium as its home field this fall.

Papenfuss said when lights are added the college would likely play host to more high school events with the ability to have night games.

The project is expected to be finished in summer 2012 when a new locker room facility for football and women’s soccer is slated to be built. That part of the project is expected to cost $2.4 million.

“Already it has just been so energizing to see the improvements with what the first phase has made,” Papenfuss said. “It’s hard to even imagine how much more is going to be added when you complete the other pieces.”

Papenfuss said the plan is to create a plaza between the football and baseball fields, but the exact design of that space hasn’t been decided and it’s not part of the current project budget.

Papenfuss said naming rights are likely to be used at some point.

“We made a decision to wait and do that at the end because you don’t know who may swoop in at the end and make a major donation,” Papenfuss said.

The locker room, plaza and football field are pieces that could be named, but the stadium will keep the Jake Christiansen name.

“It will always be Jake Christiansen Stadium,” said Papenfuss. “That is not going to change.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com