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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 05 2013

Bison soccer team puts Dacotah Field to good use today

FARGO – The program didn’t even have a place to practice when Gordon Henderson coached the first North Dakota State soccer team in 1995. They made something out of an open field at Cardinal Muench Seminary in north Fargo.

It was barely better than nothing.

Tonight, Bison soccer will go from not much too really something in terms of facilities. NDSU hosts the University of Idaho at Dacotah Field, the former football home to the Bison that is now more than a practice field.

About half of the north stands were renovated over the summer, bringing back a section of bleachers that last were used by NDSU fans in force in the early 1990s. The rest of the stands will eventually be hidden with a “bleacher cover.” The field lost its game use when the Bison football team moved into the Fargodome in 1993.

The field came back into use in 2009 when Sprinturf was installed for football practices. With the lights and a revamped scoreboard, the $200,000 project that was paid for by a university fund earmarked for facility upgrades and safety standards, made for an ideal soccer home.

“It’s just a critical component,” said Bison soccer coach Mark Cook.

It’s critical because the old field at Ellig Sports Complex was not NCAA regulation size. Plus, with the Schlanser track between the field and the stands, fans often felt removed from the soccer action.

No longer.

“From a fans perspective, you’re right there at midfield,” Cook said.

The lights also allow game times to be moved to the evening, when it’s more convenient for students to attend games or for parents to drive in from out of town.

Cook said the new Dacotah puts NDSU in the upper half of the Summit League in terms of facilities. The University of Denver has the gem of the conference. Nebraska-Omaha recently retrofitted its former football stadium for soccer.

The opening of Dacotah comes in a year when the Bison have some of their most appealing home non-conference matchups as a Division I program. Also coming to Fargo are Boise State on Sept. 13, Colorado State on Sept. 20 and Eastern Washington on Sept. 22.

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