UND breaks ground on athletic facility

CEREMONY: Campus and community officials kicked off building of new center.

With the partially torn down Old Ralph Englestad Arena in the background, members of the Grand Forks and UND community broke ground Thursday on the new UND Athletics High Performance Center.

New space, same place

The new performance center, which represents a $13 million initiative, will go where the old Winter Performance Center has stood for the past 32 years near the memorial stadium.

“(The Winter Performance Center) launched the most competitive era of UND hockey and it really brought that program to where it is today,” said Tim O’Keefe, executive vice president and CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation. “I think this project that we’re launching this afternoon with this ground breaking the will have the same impact if not more on all of our sports.”

The facility, which UND athletics director Brian Fiason called a “game changer, is a long time coming” according to UND football coach Chris Mussman who spoke to the crowd as members of the football team and other university athletic teams stood along the back of the rows of chairs.

The Building

The UND Alumni Association & Foundation has spearheaded fundraising for the project, which O’Keefe says is “symbolic of the North Dakota Spirit campaign.” The facility itself, is being completed in two separate phases.

The first phase will include a football field, an eight-lane, 300-meter track and spectator seating for approximately 1,500 people.

The second phase, pending additional funding, would include an academic center, locker rooms and offices for coaches, along with additional spaces for sports medicine and training, according to a UND press release.

“(The facility will) provide for students and athletes an environment that will really allow our students to be high-performance,” Altru CEO Dave Molmen said.

UND president Robert Kelley says the facility will extend high performance beyond the field and into other aspects of student athletes’ time at the university.

“This facility will enhance our students learning experiences — not only their athletic capabilities, but their academic capabilities as well,” Kelley said.

Kelley added that the facility will be valuable in recruiting athletes from across the nation.

“The UND Athletics High Performance Center will be an important asset for recruiting and retaining student athletes and for continuing UND’s tradition of building nationally competitive teams,” Kelley said in a press release.

New options

The facility will also make a difference for athletes and coaches already at the university, giving them the opportunity to train better and more efficiently, according to athletes and coaches.

“It’s going to be great in January or in February or in March when we can go out to the field, and we can worry about what we’re supposed to be doing in this play or that play instead of whether or not we have feeling in our fingers,” sophomore linebacker Dayo Idowu said.

Track and field coach Kevin Galbraith said the facility will allow the team, not only to host home meets, but to “train in ways that they need to be able to train.”

Standing with the sun beating down on the crowd and the partially gutted Old Ralph all but forgotten as each individual focused on the shovels and dirt in front of the stage, Galbraith, along with others, picked up shovels and drove them into the earth.

“Today represents the best Christmas of my life,” Galbraith said.

Carrie Sandstrom is the editor-in-chief for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]