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District finalizes details for new sports facility

Final details were put in place for the new athletic facility to be located east of the West Fargo High School and Veterans Memorial Arena, as the West Fargo School Board approved bids on land preparation and electrical work.

The complex will consist mainly of a track, grandstand with seating for 2,000, lighting, a press box, six tennis courts and an irrigation system.

The Board rejected all bids for a track surface, as the cost came in too high and the District is still considering which surface it will use for the facility. The track surface will be re-bid and presented to the Board again on May 23.

West Fargo High School activities will move into a central location with the construction of the complex. Soccer, track and football will all call the location home as soon as the facilities are complete. Softball would use the facility on a practice-only basis. The physical education department at West Fargo High School will all be able to utilize the location for classes as well.

Currently, the main sports moving to the complex practice at various locations. Softball squads practice at Elmwood Park diamonds (and will still play games there) and even travel to Mickelson Park in Fargo when the West Fargo fields are wet or still frozen. Soccer has played its games and practiced at the 12th Avenue East water tower for more than a decade. And football and track have called L. E. Berger home for a generation.

However, the track at Berger Elementary became so dilapidated four years ago that the school could not hold its annual track meet at that location. Since that time, the Packers have practiced at the track, but also use the streets of West Fargo as their training ground.

It will do wonders for our program, Darrin McKinnon, head coach of the West Fargo track teams, said. Kids have already heard about it, and it is increasing interest. We cant wait to see the machinery over there.

The track and main stadium will be located on the westernmost portion of the complex. To the east, practice soccer fields and football fields will be groomed. In the southwest corner, six tennis courts will move the tennis program to the high school from Tintes Park. In the southeast, softball cages and diamonds will be set up for the junior varsity and varsity teams.

Northern Improvement will do the ground work on the facility to the tune of about $1.7 million. Fargo Electric will provide the juice necessary to operate scoreboards, lights, the irrigation system and a press box for $210,000. The maximum cost of the project will be about $2.2 million.

Bids for the various track surfaces rolled in between $121,000 for the low-end surface to $482,000 for a top-end surface that is used at both Fargo South and Concordia College. A middle-of-the-road surface, used at North Dakota States Ellig Sports Complex, was bid at about $308,000, and District officials are hoping the cost of that surface might go down when its re-bid later this spring.

Both Business Manager Mark Lemer and Superintendent Chuck Cheney said re-bidding the track surface will not slow down the construction phase of the project for two reasons. One, the permafrost is just coming out of the ground, and preparation is probably still several weeks away. Second, the track surface is the final item poured into the complex.

The Board and administration discussed, at length, several issues that werent included in the overall plan of the complex. Board members raised concerns over amenities such as restrooms, infield surfaces on the softball diamonds and the track surface. The initial motion was passed after being on the table for more than an hour.

I really dont want to visit this piece of land ever again, Tom Gentzkow, Board member, said. I want to get this done right and walk away.

Lemer said he would keep the project within budget, using funds from the previous bond issue and the current bankroll.

The Board also approved a motion to appoint Ulteig Engineers, Fargo, as the lead firm on the project. The firm will oversee the construction process and take part in additional planning and production meetings.