Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 2:55 pm | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
As you may know, Valley City State University has been engaging in a fundraising effort to install artificial turf at VCSU's football stadium. Athletics has played an important role at VCSU since the earliest days of the University. During that time, the football program has been one of the most successful and storied programs on campus. About a year ago, we determined the current natural grass field required major improvements including a new base, a new crown for proper drainage, and new grass. The cost of these deferred maintenance improvements were estimated to be upwards of $180,000.

Rather than putting these funds towards simply maintaining the existing grass field, we explored the advantages of investing in artificial turf instead. Artificial turf requires no seeding, fertilizing, watering, mowing, or painting, which reduces long-term maintenance costs. Many universities have already installed turf, and some football recruits are coming to VCSU having played their high school football on turf. Artificial turf can respond to weather conditions such as heavy rain better than natural grass. There are studies indicating turf is safer for student-athletes and prevents injuries more effectively than natural grass. Additional programs such as baseball, soccer, softball, and intramural athletic programs can use artificial turf without damaging the field. Therefore, more activity benefiting more students can occur on artificial turf compared to a grass surface.

Unfortunately, there was an article in a recent issue of the Times-Record that took some information regarding this project out of context. The front-page article ('Paying for Every Yard') in the Monday, February 14, 2011 T-R referred to the amount of funding for the project that will be funded through 'private' resources. The document in which the reporter took his information was from the Agenda Item of the November 4, 2010 North Dakota State Board of Higher Education meeting. Per NDSBHE policy, when requesting approval from the Board to proceed with a project such as this, VCSU is required to disclose the amount of funding and sources that will be used for the project. It was disclosed to the NDSBHE (and the Board unanimously approved) that $180,000 would come from University resources, and the remainder would come from private sources (i.e. those sources external to VCSU).

State Board approval requires disclosure of University funding vs. external/private funds from a source other than VCSU's deferred maintenance account. Therefore, ANY outside funding that is pledged and committed toward the project (be it from corporate sponsors, individual donors, local economic development funding, local food & beverage funding, etc) is considered 'private' in the eyes of the NDSBHE for this approval process. The article surmised that a certain percentage of funds were to be raised from 'tax-supported' sources and a certain percentage of funds would be raised from 'non-tax' sources. That is simply inaccurate. No such commitment was ever made. The only commitment was that $180,000 of the project would be supported by VCSU deferred maintenance and the remainder would come from sources external to the University. The suggestion of anything different in the article is simply inaccurate and NOT reflective of what the University stated nor what the NDSBHE approved.

We continue working with engineers in the design of the turf project. VCSU is excited about the long-term benefits this investment will have for our student-athletes as well as students from throughout the region. We are grateful to the City of Valley City and the VCBC Development Corporation along with the many individual and corporate supporters who have pledged their financial support for this project, and look forward to recognizing these donors in the near future. This project will result in a true asset for the entire region, and as we think collectively about improving our 'community of place,' this effort will no doubt create a positive lasting benefit.