Finally underway

After a flood and two failed bids, the hardest part is finally done for Minot State Athletic Director Rick Hedberg: getting plans for a new press box at Herb Parker Stadium in place.

Now for the easy part: waiting nine months for the structure’s completion.

This week, construction crews began the excavation process just north of the home bleachers. By mid-April, a state-of-the-art, two-level press box will stand in that area.

“In a perfect world – if we wouldn’t have had a flood – it would’ve been done two years ago,” Hedberg said Thursday during a press conference. “Between that and a couple failed bids and the competition for building here in Minot right now, we’re moving forward and we’re happy to do that.”

The facility will include space for media and coaches, 11 suites, an MSU booster community room, restrooms and a concessions stand. The press box – preceded by the installation of FieldTurf, a 25-by-16-foot video scoreboard, new bleachers and lighting – is the final phase of the four-part Herb Parker Stadium project. The suites will push the stadium’s capacity past 4,000.

“We’re really excited to have this phase continuing now with our press box at Herb Parker Stadium,” Hedberg said. “This has been a big project, a long project.”

The newest renovation, Hedberg believes, will keep MSU’s football and women’s soccer facilities competitive with the rest of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“It’s a huge thing to remain competitive within the conference on different levels,” Hedberg said. “Obviously operating budgets and salaries and things (are important), but facilities are a big piece for student-athletes, and it’s important.

“It was evident when we went to some of the visiting schools in the Northern Sun that we had work to do in our football stadium and our soccer stadium. This will pretty much complete that and put us on par with those schools.”

Women’s soccer coach Jason Spain and football coach Tyler Hughes expect the press box to help attract talented student-athletes.

“I just think it makes recruiting exponentially easier,” Spain said. “We’ve got the nicest surface, I think, in the conference. There’s other turf fields but not with this surface. The stands are nice and you can see them all the way from South Hill. With the red, it looks good. The press box is going to enhance the whole thing.”

Said Hughes: “The kids will certainly enjoy being a part of that and feel like their home is as good as there is in all of Division II. It’ll make a big impact and we’re looking forward to having that as an advantage when we go out there on the recruiting trail in the coming years.”

Originally, MSU had revealed plans for a three-level press box. That proposal was nixed in order to go with a more cost-efficient, two-level scheme.

“By going to a two-level press box, we actually stretched it out,” Hedberg said. “Basically we didn’t really lose any square-footage in those except for the hallways.”

He hopes to unveil the press box at the 2015 Red vs. White Spring Game.

Though the Herb Parker Stadium renovation project is nearing its completion, MSU isn’t done with updating athletic facilities.

Hedberg announced plans to add a video replay board inside the MSU Dome by the end of 2014. He also said an outdoor track will be installed north of “The Herb,” but didn’t commit to an expected completion date. That project will be privately funded.

“We want to be as ambitious as we can be in updating our facilities to make sure they are among the best in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the region and the NCAA D-II,” Hedberg said.

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.