By Thor Thompson
A new year brings big changes to MSUM, with a $1 million donation from Scheels All Sports to outfit Nemzek Field with all-weather turf, an updated sound system, and new lighting fixtures.
These changes will bring new excitement and a shine to a football program that seems ready to “raise the bar”.
This, in conjunction with WDAY’s game day coverage, will bring a new level of attention to Dragon Football, not just from fans and alumni but future players as well.
“I think it’s important to our football program to have facilities that are, at the least, comparable to others in our conference,” said MSUM President Anne Blackhurst in regard to the upgrades helping in recruitment.
It’s not just the football team that will benefit. With the always unpredictable weather in our area, the artificial turf will help those in spring sports get ready a little earlier. Intramural sports will get a chance to shine under the bright lights and fans will enjoy a game-day experience with entirely new sights and sounds at the soon-to-be Scheels Field. MSUM also recognizes the impact these changes can bring to our community.
“Athletics play a really important role in making the university more visible and it draws community members to our campus if our teams are successful,” Blackhurst said.
It certainly seems to be a conscious effort to bring more people and attention to the campus in Moorhead, and partnering with one of the largest businesses of our region aims to build a solid foundation for progress in the future.
“Scheels has been a good partner with NDSU and Concordia over the years and we look forward to partnering with MSUM and President Blackhurst to help MSUM become a stronger player in our community of Fargo-Moorhead,” said Steve Scheel, CEO of Scheels.
Large donations and partnerships with top local businesses will help the Dragons become a force to be reckoned with in the future both academically and athletically.
Though it was the largest sum donated, the $1 million gift from Scheels is part of a bigger picture. President Blackhurst’s ‘Laps for the Long Run’ fundraiser, where she will run 50 laps (12.5 miles) at Nemzek Fieldhouse, is an event which will take place to celebrate her inauguration and raise money for other areas of the school as well.
Blackhurst put up $1,000 per lap, $50,000 of her own money to start a scholarship fund for high school students with exceptional academic records. The President’s Merit Endowed Scholarships will also be supplemented by donations to Laps for the Long Run that come in without specific directions as to where the money should be allocated.
President Blackhurst believes that the idea of her ‘‘working her butt off for the university” and putting up her own money is a reason to be excited and be investing in the future of MSUM.
The Laps for the Long Run Inauguration event will take place at the Nemzek Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Sept. 24 starting at 5:30 p.m. Donations can be made through the MSUM website at www.mnstate.edu/laps.