Air-supported dome at Herb Parker Stadium now open
Minot residents braved the dropping temperatures and blowing snow Wednesday, as Minot State University invited locals to see the newly constructed air-supported dome at Herb Parker Stadium.
“One thing I can say that is very clear and evident is that we wouldn’t be standing here right now on this field if we didn’t have this facility,” MSU vice president of advancement Rick Hedberg said during the open house.
Current athletic director for Minot State Andy Carter said he was blown away by the turnout Wednesday evening. The bubble has been anticipated throughout the community and has now been a dream seen through to fruition.
“It’s 86,000 square feet of practice space that every team can get some kind of advantage from it,” he said.
About ten years ago, MSU began considering the idea of an air-supported dome. Hedberg and company traveled to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota to see their air-supported facility with their own eyes. In snowy, below freezing temperatures, SCSU and the community could utilize the facility during a season when, for many northern states, all training is done inside.
That possibility has now arrived at Minot State.
The air-supported dome, or better known as “the bubble,” is kept at 60 degrees and covers the turf that can be used for training, batting practices, scrimmages or simply just to play catch. It’s 86,000 square feet of space now available to the community that hadn’t existed as a possibility before.
For future use, the bubble will inflate mid-November after the Minot State football and soccer seasons are over, and will be deflate in late April.
Minot State is adamant that the newly built dome is not only for the university but for the community as well. Minot Storm Fastpitch and Magic City Youth Softball League as well as the Minot Junior Golf have already rented out a spot on Sundays for practices and driving ranges.
Minot Storm and Magic City Youth Softball director and coordinator Thor Nelson spoke about how the bubble is a testament to how far Minot has come since the 2011 Souris River flood.
“What this community has done in the last six years when you look at the new hockey rink and the new ball diamonds and now this bubble, what they provide in our community is unbelievable,” he said.
Hedberg sees the bubble becoming a hub for tournaments and programs that will bring in people from out of town to not only take advantage of the bubble, but also stimulate the local economy.
“Minot has a great thing going here with its relationship between the community and the university,” Carter said. “What we really need to be thinking is that this could be a 24-hour facility. There’s nothing stopping us from doing things after 10 p.m. or before 8 a.m. We want to look and find what are those opportunities that young people can get in here.”
Minot State University President Dr. Steven Shirley addressed the crowd at the open house and talked about the great feat the community has collectively accomplished.
“All told, this bubble truly has been a team effort. The new seasonal dome is something our campus, as well as the City of Minot, can all be proud of,” Shirley said. “Along with the other major renovations and improvements during the past decade, we now have a complex right here, at Herb Parker field, that is truly one of the finest in the upper Midwest.”
To fund the $2 million project, MSU received a $1 million appropriation from the Minot Community Facilities Fund which is supported with a portion of Minot sales tax dollars. Hedberg, Shirley and many others thanked Tom Barry, Minot City Manager, and the city council, both past and current, for their support of the project.
MSU raised the remainder needed from private donations through the Minot State Development Foundation. Area organizations and businesses that gave their support and donations include Wells Fargo, Otto Bremer Trust, Jerome’s Collision Center, Minot Junior Golf, Town & Country Credit Union, Hampton Inn & Suites, Northern Plains Inn, Gate City Bank, The Grand Hotel and St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation.
“We want as much community involvement as we can get. If we can keep this thing going 24-hours a day, that’s what we’d like to see,” Hedberg said. “The air is going to be blowing in here whether it’s three in the morning or three in the afternoon, so if there’s people that want to utilize it, that’s what we want.”
To reserve the bubble or portions of the field, contact Sean Griffin, coordinator of athletic operations, at 858-3041 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the bubble, visit msubeavers.com.