Published 08/28/2014, INFORUM
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
FARGO – Just as North Dakota State will soon have the Scheels Center, Minnesota State Moorhead will soon see a Scheels Field, the result of a $1 million donation announced Wednesday.
The donation is part of MSUM’s Laps for the Long Run campaign, which was announced last week as a fundraiser for merit-based student scholarships. The university’s new president, Anne Blackhurst, personally donated $50,000.
The $1 million donation, presented by Steve Scheel, CEO of Scheels, will not go toward scholarships, but to a new football field with artificial turf.
Construction is planned next summer following the 2014-15 school year so that it does not conflict with student activities, said football coach Steve Laqua.
The field should be ready in time for the first game of the 2015 football season, Blackhurst said.
In the past, the Fargo-based sporting goods company has made significant donations to the two other colleges in the Fargo-Moorhead area. The Scheels Center will be NDSU’s new basketball arena, and Scheels also donated to the Offutt School of Business at Concordia College.
Scheel referred to MSUM as a “pretty well-kept secret” and said he hopes to help change that.
“And I think it’s President Blackhurst’s challenge to bring MSUM out of the shadows and make it known in the Fargo-Moorhead community,” he said.
Laqua, who is beginning his fourth season as Dragons head football coach this fall, said he’s excited not only for the artificial turf but also for a partnership with the Scheels company.
“We built the program, really, with local talent that wants to compete at a national level, and I think when you look at Scheels, it’s a local business that’s successful at the national level,” he said.
Other sports that will use the field will likely include softball, soccer and intramural sports, Laqua said.
And when other fields are muddy, the Scheels Field will be an additional option.
“It relieves a lot of the indoor pressure,” Laqua said. “That’s what benefits so much more than just football, just athletics, but really the campus community, as well.”
Last year, 1,500 MSUM students participated in intramurals, and there were 225 club teams, said David Wahlberg, a spokesman for the school.
MSUM athletic director Doug Peters said they are exploring the possibility of a Thursday night game to open the 2015 season.
Peters said the field is getting a new lighting system, which is not part of the Scheels donation.