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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 24 2013

Turf project for Bison practice fields taking longer than expected

FARGO – North Dakota State opens football camp next weekend, but it is questionable if the Bison will be able to practice on their own fields. An artificial turf project is taking longer than expected.

The company AstroTurf is expected to begin the final installation process today for GameDay Grass that formerly was in the Fargodome. It is going in the middle of three football fields south of the Bison Sports Arena and as of Wednesday, the completion date had a wide range.

NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor said it could take as few as six days or it could at least be double that. He said the company will have a better idea once it is three days into the installation.

“An outdoor turf is less complicated from my understanding than indoor turf,” he said. “They’ll have two crews working on it around the clock and hopefully it will be done close to camp starting.”

The other two grass fields will be unusable during installation because of a lack of space. Meanwhile, Taylor said possibilities for an alternative practice site on campus are being considered in the event the project isn’t completed.

It wouldn’t be optimal for a program that is coming off back-to-back Division I FCS titles under head coach Craig Bohl.

“He would like everything to be nice and normal,” Taylor said. “It’s a frustration. Hopefully we can get it done. If not, it is an interruption but once they get practicing and have enough field space, they’ll be fine.”

NDSU bought the surface last fall from AstroTurf at a cost of $350,000, which came from privately-raised funds by Team Makers booster group. The turf was only in the Fargodome for two months and had to be removed because of problems with the underlay when it was rolled up and stored.

That will not be a problem outdoors, AstroTurf officials said at the time of the purchase.

Taylor said the groundwork took longer than expected because of the poor spring weather and a rainy June.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia