Tonight is a night ten years in the making for North Dakota State basketball.
The brand new, $50 million dollar Sanford Health Athletic Complex (SHAC) will open its doors for the first time. A project that had its fits and starts since 2006, finally broke ground in the summer of 2014 and will host its first basketball game tonight with the Bison men facing Concordia.
Those who follow this program closely are well aware what this building means for the athletic program. For those that only have a casual interest in basketball, I imagine this building will change that. We all loved the quirks of the Bison Sports Arena, from the wooden bleachers, to the rising temperatures as you got closer to the roof. This is completely different. A state-of-the-art, fan friendly building, with chair back seating. The concourse area alone I think will be a high traffic area for fans to congregate to visit with each other before games, before heading to their seats. I imagine for fans that went to hundreds of games inside the BSA, tonight or next Friday will be a night to look around and try to figure out where things used to be inside the BSA.
For the basketball programs, the SHAC is an immeasurable help. We’ve all heard the stories from Tim Miles to Saul Phillips to Dave Richman on how they avoided bringing potential recruits to the BSA. That disadvantage no longer exists. The amenities that have been built for the student athletes is remarkable. Everything from their strength and conditioning center to an area specifically for academics, this building vaults NDSU to the top of mid-major facilities.
What does that mean for the actual product? For starters, better players. Yes, the coaches will wants players that fit into their system and understand their culture, but it never hurts to have a brand new building to show off for recruits. The men’s team has laid the groundwork over the past four years, racking up 20 wins each season and has become a known mid-major in the college ranks. I also believe a home court advantage could actually be established thanks now to a legitimate arena. For the women’s team, which has been an afterthought for far too long in this town, this could be the demarcation point where the program turned around. There’s a significant freshman class that’s ready to leave an imprint on this team.
In the long run, this is a huge boost to basketball in the city of Fargo. Early next year, the high school postseason tournaments will be held inside the SHAC, and for those kids to get an opportunity to play inside the Scheels Center is one I’m sure they won’t forget.
Yes, football is on a glorious run. And it is the stretch run for the postseason. But tonight is the start of something new for NDSU basketball. Just nobody scratch the new place.
PROGRAM NOTE: I’ll be live with Dave Richman tonight at 6:20 on WDAY 6 Sports, we’ll also stream a live tour inside the SHAC around 2 on my Facebook page, DomIzzoWDAYSports.