Plans for North Dakota State to start a men’s and women’s ice hockey program beginning in 2002-03 have been revived, according to an article in The (Fargo) Forum today.
According to the article, Fargo developer Jim Roers has stepped forward and announced plans to privately fund a new 3,500-seat on-campus arena. The arena, which would host the women’s hockey team, local youth teams, and serve as the men’s practice facility, would be adjacent to the current Bison Sports Arena. Estimations place the cost at $8 to $10 million.
The men’s team would actually play its games at the nearby Fargodome, an 18,500-seat facility that houses the NDSU football team, concerts and other events.
Hockey at NDSU was put on hold after taxpayers rejected a $40 million, publicly-funded facility during a referendum last spring. That plan would have imposed a half-cent sales tax on state residents, and failed by a 62-37 percent margin.
Roers has met with school president Joseph Chapman and athletic director Bob Entzion. According to the paper, the two sides have discussed a variety of issues, including what percentage NDSU can contribute to the project.
The article lists four of Chapman’s main concerns: that it doesn’t take away money from other programs; that it include both men’s and women’s hockey; that it will be self-supporting financially; and that student concerns will be addressed.
“I’ve made no secret about it,” Chapman said to The Forum. “I think it would be good for NDSU, North Dakota and Fargo. I’m real interested to see what they’ll come up with.”
Roers is looking to work on the details during the winter, and is optimistic about breaking ground by next summer.
A number of obstacles still remain, however, including, not just the obvious funding issues, but NCAA issues as well. NDSU, a Division II institution, is looking to be a Division I hockey program, but the NCAA currently has a moratorium on programs changing classifications.