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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 04 2012

New foundation forming quickly for Bison track and field

Fargo - A glance from your car on North University Drive near the Bison Sports Arena does not do the construction justice. The new Shelly Ellig Indoor Track and Field Facility at North Dakota State can be summed up in one word: large.

This week, workers continued to install the roof on a building that is not shy on square feet – about 78,000 to be more precise.

“It’s a lot bigger when you get inside,” Bison men’s track and field head coach Don Larson said while standing inside.

What once was a dream on a drawing board is taking shape with the hope of some sort of ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Oct. 6 homecoming weekend, Larson said. Entering his 34rd year in leading the Bison program, Larson has no shortage of expertise in traveling around the country to different indoor track and field facilities.

The entire NDSU staff had input on the project – and the result includes amenities like a javelin throwing wall and throwing nets to practice over the winter for outdoor events.

The track will be eight lanes instead of the current six at the BSA.

Seating for about 1,000 spectators will be on the west side, with some standing room space on the east side.

White beams with what Larson calls a high-tech ceiling fabric will allow more light to permeate the interior.

It will open just in time for the mirror scheduling philosophy of Summit League basketball, which will have either the men’s or women’s team at home virtually every weekend this season. Not having the Ellig building would make finding open dates for indoor meets a tougher road.

Moreover, getting track and field out of the BSA puts the onus on the athletic department to finish the funding for the arena renovation. The current total stands around $2 million short of the $32 million needed to start construction.

“Everybody benefits when you separate the two,” Larson said.

It stands to benefit recruiting, although Larson cautioned that attracting student-athletes takes more than a building.

“As much as this facility adds to our program, it isn’t the only thing,” he said. “It’s about the people within your program. It’s selling Fargo and North Dakota State. It’s a great place to recruit kids to because of the diverse offerings that we have.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.