Fundraising starts for new seats at MSU Dome

Since the Minot State Dome was constructed in 1981, spectators have enjoyed countless sporting and community events from the same seats. The 37-year old, worn down seats in the lower bowl has become history worth replacing.

Minot State University embarks on a fundraising campaign this week to not only replace the outdated seats in the MSU Dome, but improve the functionality of the 10,000-seat venue as well.

“They are in a state of disrepair,” MSU Athletic Director Andy Carter said. “They get used a lot and we want to continue to use them a lot. So, we felt like it was time for us to make a push to replace the seats.”

The current plan is to remove all the green and blue seats in the lower bowl and replace them with a more appropriate red to match the Beavers team colors. They would also install a new lower bowl bleacher moving mechanism, open the second level corridors to allow access to the lower bowl seating from the top and do some retrofitting to the upper level bleachers.

Along with the visual appeal, the upgrades would also improve the efficiency of constantly having to move the bleachers back and forth for events, games and practices.

“Technology, like in everything, was changed a great deal over 30 years,” Carter said. “The new system, you’ll push a button and they will all lay down and tuck in. So, it makes them easy to own and less manpower to get them in and get them out.”

Vastly different than having to manually lay down all the seats and hearing the screeching of the current mechanism when moving them in or out.

While MSU has gone through temporary band aids trying to prolong the bleachers longevity, a more permanent fix is desired.

“The company doesn’t even manufacture those seats anymore,” said Rick Hedberg, MSU’s vice president of advancement. “If we have something break, we have been taking them from another spot and filling it in. We used to have some extra ones. But, probably 4-5 years ago, we have used them up.”

Carter doesn’t think anybody would have any interest in salvaging the seats either.

“Somebody was saying that we need to give these seats away to like a Class B school that needs them,” he said. “Well, I’m not sure anybody is going to want them. There are a lot of mechanical issues with them. I can sit in here (in my office) and I can hear them. It’s like my knees, they’re loud and they creak.”

The cost of the project is approximately $2 million with $1 million coming from the city of Minot’s Community Facilities Fund grant and the other $1 million to be raised by the university from private individuals, foundations and local businesses.

At least $500,000 must be raised privately for MSU to be awarded the grant.

Individual fundraising efforts are being centered on the buy a seat campaign. Donors can purchase seats for $1,000, which will provide a seat slipcover with their name and five years of having a designated reserved seat at all MSU home events. A donor wall will also be displayed in the south lobby of the MSU Dome.

The goal is to raise roughly $300,000 with the purchase of 300 seats and then get the rest through a corporate campaign to sell sections of seats in the lower bowl, and through other sources.

“They are going to be about the same size,” Hedberg said about the new seats. “They are going to be the hard-plastic type, much like the (Minot) Auditorium seats but a little bit bigger.”

The completion of the project would provide benefits for both MSU and the local community.

“This is really a statewide venue when you think about the state and regional tournaments we have,” Hedberg said. “It has a huge impact. The State Class B boys tournament, just that alone is probably a $2 million to $3 million impact to the community for one weekend. So, we have to continue to (update) because Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck are all doing the same thing.”

These upgrades can also provide a boost in recruiting efforts for the Beavers.

“When we are recruiting and trying to get people to decide to come to Minot State, this facility is one of the biggest selling points that we have,” Carter said. “Young people are visually stimulated. When they go to other universities, they see things and go, ‘Wow, I can envision myself here.’ This is helps us compete to get those top student-athletes.”

Staying up-to-date is the priority and, for Carter and Hedberg, replacing a small piece of MSU’s history to do so is more than worth it.

“I’m a very tradition rich guy, I like tradition and I like history,” Carter said. “But, when it becomes so obvious that a replacement needs to happen because it’s making the experience for the current students and users less than what it could be. Then, I get over it pretty quick. It’s like all these trophies and stuff that we have. Nobody, with me being at the front of the line, would ever want to see that stuff thrown away. But, at some point, we are going to fill up this entire place with the past. And we also have to have space for the current and the future. We have plenty of pictures of this facility, so these things won’t be gone forever.

“We got our use out of them and it’s time to move on.”

Carter hopes to get the funding needed by the end of the year and have this project come to fruition during the summer of 2019. During that time, most of the activities that use the floor will have to be moved to other sites.

For more information, contact Jeremy Feller with the MSU Development Foundation at Jeremy.Feller@MinotStateU.edu.

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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