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The North Dakota State University campus. Forum file photo

NDSU plans new indoor sports training, agriculture research and teaching centers

BISMARCK — North Dakota State University is proposing a slate of building projects and renovations, including a $60 million agricultural products development center and a $37.2 million multi-sport indoor practice facility.

The projects, all given unanimous support on Tuesday, May 15, by the budget committee of the State Board of Higher Education, will require the approval of the full board and, in some cases, the North Dakota Legislature, to proceed.

But Tuesday's recommendations, if adopted, mean private fundraising efforts for the projects can begin.

NDSU proposes to raise $6 million from donors and seek legislative approval for $54 million in appropriations for the agricultural products development center, which would house research and instructional space for both crop and livestock agriculture as well as food science.

The agricultural products center would replace Harris Hall and the meats lab, both built in the 1950s and acknowledged to be inadequate and unsuitable for today's needs given advances in technology and farming practices, said Kenneth Grafton, dean of the College of Agriculture at NDSU.

Researchers are hamstrung by the outdated buildings, yet continue to do good work, Grafton said. "They're doing work in facilities that are substandard," he said.

Harris Hall and the meats lab house crop quality, food science and meat science teaching and research programs NDSU says are critical to "maintaining or advancing" those programs. A new facility would address health, safety, food grade and building code issues, according to NDSU.

"These programs are not only important in ensuring food security for the citizens of North Dakota and the surrounding region but also in the ability to trade the state's products internationally," according to a memo outlining the proposal.

"We're trying to be efficient and identify ways we can improve efficiency by co-locating capabilities," Grafton said.

So far, the center remains "very, very conceptual," but NDSU has begun working with architects to come up with preliminary drawings to help depict the proposal, he said.

NDSU also plans to build a $32.7 million multi-sport indoor practice facility to replace a plastic "bubble" that provides temporary space, but must be repeatedly set up and dismantled, including heating and ventilation equipment, at high cost. The bubble, purchased a few years ago, provides a protected practice environment for sports teams, including football, baseball, softball, golf and soccer.

If approved and funded, the new indoor practice facility will include about 85,000 square feet of practice space and also will include locker rooms, a meeting room, sports medicine space and a weight room. It would be located on the current Team Makers practice fields, adjacent to the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track and Field Facility and the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.

"The indoor practice facility will serve as a welcome mat to the NDSU Athletics Campus," NDSU said in a briefing document for the proposal. "It will provide current and prospective student-athletes with the tools, training and facilities to be successful during their time in Fargo."

The committee also recommended that several other NDSU projects move forward.

Members supported NDSU's request to seek private donations for a $3 million renovation of Barry Hall, which houses the College of Business. Plans call for renovating space now occupied by the North Dakota Trade Office and adding space for large events.

The large event space will create opportunities to host more guest speakers and industry events, NDSU said in a briefing paper.

NDSU also got committee support for a $3.7 million expansion of the West Dining Center that will add seating for another 250 diners from the nearby Catherine Cater Hall, set to open in 2019, and add an elevator that meets accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The addition will be paid by student dining fees.

The full State Board of Education will meet May 23 on the campus of Bismarck State University.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com

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