BSA Inches Closer to $41 Million Overhaul
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 15:10
The Bison Sports Arena is getting a major facelift thanks to generous private and corporate donors that are funding the $41 million project. Only a few million dollars remain until the overhaul officially begins.
Although it is still commonly known as the BSA, it is now called the Sanford Health Athletic Complex in honor of one of its biggest donors, Sanford Health.
The 43-year-old building currently houses the track, wrestling and basketball teams throughout their seasons, rotating the main arena among each team. Once renovations are complete, the building will be a modern, state of the art athletic facility.
Amy Ruley coached the women’s basketball team from 1979 to 2008 and is now the senior associate athletic director for development. She explained that the BSA was constructed shortly before Title IX, the amendment that made women’s sports equal to men’s sports. Since the building was originally built as a men’s-only facility, administration made many adjustments over the years to accommodate women athletes and coaches.
All athletic teams utilize the BSA for locker rooms and the strength and conditioning room. With a fast-growing athletics department, space is becoming increasingly limited.
“[The BSA is] busting at the seams. It’s been a great facility, but like I said, it really needs this facelift and an overhaul,” Ruley said.
Upgrades will include completely renovated locker rooms, a commons area for the student athletes and a brand new strength and conditioning room.
“We work with what we[‘ve] got,” said Holly Johnson, a sophomore basketball player. “I mean no complaining [because] we get free scholarships to play basketball; it’s what we love. It’s fine right now but we’re really excited for the renovations.”
Both Ruley and Johnson said the new spaces will be a bonus when it comes to recruiting student athletes in the future. The complex will put NDSU on par with some of its competitors’ recruiting abilities and athletic facilities.
“It’ll be huge for recruiting, like some young kids finding out there’s a new facility to play in,” Johnson said. “Granted, that’s not what it’s all about, but it definitely will draw more fans, too, and I think it’ll be good for NDSU as a whole.”
Additional renovations will include an academic center for student athletes and overhauled administrative offices. One of the most noticeable changes, however, will be the more permanent home to NDSU’s wrestling and basketball teams: the Scheels Arena.
Ruley said that the outdated arena will become a more comfortable, more attractive and more accommodating space for both the guests and the players.
Private and corporate donations will fund these transformations, but Ruley explained that fundraising has been a long time coming.
Many private and anonymous donations have helped fund the project, and there have been several corporate gifts that have made headlines.
“We are fortunate,” Ruley said. “We have a very giving community and people who are willing to help who believe in NDSU and the things we do here, and our student athletes and our students in general.”
Sanford Health donated $10 million to the project in 2010, making it the largest one-time donation to the university ever. Scheels donated $5 million that same year, and both corporations were given naming rights to part of the arena. The project’s most recent donation, $1.2 million, came from businessman Jim Ingstad and his wife Victoria.
Jim Ingstad currently owns Radio FM Media and is a partner in Gateway Chevrolet. He formerly owned Radio Fargo Moorhead, which is now Midwest Communications.
Although Ingstad is not NDSU alumnus, he has a close personal relationship with athletics director Gene Taylor and his family.
“Many times your donors and some of your bigger donors aren’t necessarily your alums,” Ruley said, “but they have relationships in some way with the university or the people at the university or the community.”
Administration is inching closer to their financial goal, but are awaiting more donation “asks,” or proposals, to come through. Once the goal is reached, construction should begin spring of 2014, Ruley guessed.