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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 21 2013

Bison Sports Arena OK'd by ND Board of Higher Ed

FARGO – One down, one approval to go for the Bison Sports Arena renovation. The North Dakota state Board of Higher Education unanimously supported the Sanford Health Athletic Complex without any discussion on Thursday.

“That’s a great step,” said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor. “We feel really good about the unanimous support.”

The project still has to go before the North Dakota Legislative Council Budget Section next month in Bismarck. If approved, it’s expected that construction could start in 2014.

“We’re getting closer,” Taylor said. “Every step gets us closer.”

The action comes just over a month after the school’s Development Foundation announced it will guarantee funding of the project to $41 million. Because construction bids came in higher than the $35.4 million originally approved by the Higher Education board and the Legislature, NDSU has to go back for another round of approvals.

The project, with the principal piece being a 5,700-seat Scheels Center basketball arena, is entirely privately funded. It perhaps is the main reason the Board did not offer any resistance.

Also included is a two-court basketball practice facility, a new weight room and entirely renovated offices.

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