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Eric Peterson, Published August 23 2012

Fargodome lacking Fargo high school football games this season

Fargo - Fargo public high schools won’t be playing climate-controlled football again this fall.

For a second consecutive season, Fargo South, Fargo North and Fargo Davies don’t have any of their regular-season home games scheduled in the Fargodome.

“We have eliminated that somewhat because we all have individual fields,” South athletic director Cory Lehman said. “It really became that all the facilities are able to host the games that we have now.”

In 2010, South, North and Davies, along with West Fargo, all played at least one game in the Fargodome.

Since football started being played in the Fargodome in the fall of 1993, the more anticipated metro prep matchups were generally played in the facility to accommodate the larger crowds.

“The old North-South games, they physically probably couldn’t have been handled on our campus,” said former North athletic director Troy Cody, now a principal at Davies. “At the heart and soul of it all is when Davies opened up it lessened the crowds coming to North’s and South’s fields.”

South in essence split into two varsity football teams in 2010 when Davies played its first varsity season. The addition of Davies divided the student population at South. Davies also divided the adult fan base.

“It used to be when we played Fargo South, they couldn’t host it at their site,” said West Fargo athletic director Curt Jones, who is entering his 24th year. “I think it has a lot to do with South and Davies splitting.”

Jones said this fall will mark the first time West Fargo is playing a road game on South’s field – and not at the Fargodome –since the dome opened.

Rob Sobolik, who is the general manager of the Fargodome, would like to see the metro high schools back playing games in the facility. While the games aren’t huge money makers, Sobolik said, they create more exposure for the facility and adds more events to the calendar.

“Last year was the first year that I can remember where we didn’t have at least one Fargo metro school game in the building,” said Sobolik, who has been the dome’s GM since 2004.

Sobolik said, as of now, the dome has four dates set aside for prep football games this fall, including a Minnesota Heart O’ Lakes Conference day. The other three dates are set aside for the Minnesota playoffs.

“I wish we’d have more,” Sobolik said.

In the future, Lehman said he would like to see metro teams play at least one game in the dome.

“I’d love to see a community night where we have West Fargo, Fargo South, Fargo North and Davies playing in the dome,” Lehman said.

Sobolik said dome rental is $3,000 for the day, plus security and other expense. That means around $5,000 for a prep single-game event with a large crowd, Sobolik said.

Lehman said in his time as athletic director, South has never lost money in the Fargodome, and has cleared anywhere from $500 to $4,500 per game.

“We wanted to have that big-game atmosphere and allow for enough seating,” Lehman said. “It’s easier to go to the dome because I call up Rob Sobolik and tell him we’d like to rent the dome. It’s not so much cost effective any longer because we don’t get as many fans.”

South head coach Troy Mattern likes playing home games on the South campus because it gives the Bruins a chance to build a home-field identity. But Mattern would like to see some dome dates in the future.

“If we could play in the dome once a year, that would be great so the kids have a chance to feel what that (new) turf is like,” Mattern said.

The Fargodome added new artificial grass turf to the facility this season.

Davies played a few of its home games at the Fargodome in 2010.

“As of right now, we are happy to be playing at our home field,” said Davies athletic director Lenny Ohlhauser, who does see merit in Fargodome games. “It was fun to watch a couple good metro games.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com