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Wolves ready to christen new stadium

A view of Dacotah Bank Stadium and Thares Field and neighboring Koehler Hall Of Fame Field from the press box. Photo by John Davis taken 8/31/2021

There is no place quite like this home.

The Northern State football team is about to start a new era of Wolves football when they open Dacotah Bank Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 11 (the team starts its season on the road this evening). The facility has more bells and whistles than any other stadium in the area and site lines that offer premium viewing from any angle.

Needless to say, there is quite a buzz around campus at the start of this school year.

“Part of that vibe is just the excitement behind the facility itself. The other part of that is of course coming off the year we had last year with COVID and coming off COVID protocols, I think there’s a strong desire across the entire state and region to really embrace these types of events,” said Justin Fraase, Vice President of Enrollment, Communications and Marketing at Northern State. “Then you throw on a brand new state-of-the art facility that you’re going to draw in individuals from across the region just amplifies that.”

The stadium features multi-levels of viewing of Thares Field from general admission to club level, suites and a party deck. Fraase said that the view is probably his favorite aspect of the new facility.

“The view of the field, whether you’re sitting down in general admission, whether you’re at the Loge or at club level, or even if you’re in the Kessler’s Champions Club overlooking the field, it’s just the accessible views from all over the place, even on the berm.”

There will also be tailgating areas and a kids zone.

Fraase said the stadium, which will seat about 4,500 spectators (not including the berm and standing room only locations), will offer so much more than just a place to play football. He believes the games will take on added meaning as people utilize all that the facility has to offer.

“I think it’s set up so that it’s really going to be an event,” he said. “It’s not just a game, it’s really going to be an event that we get a lot of people to come out to. It’s going to be a social event.”

For the time being, the football stadium is scheduled to host just five Northern football games this fall, although Fraase said there has been interest from other entities in using the facility.

“We want to make sure that this is a community and regional asset. We want to have high school football, high school soccer, high school lacrosse, you name it on that field. We want to try to go after state events and get them here in our community,” Fraase said. “We definitely want to utilized this more than just five nights a year.”

Fraase said that people who have ideas on ways to use the stadium should contact Northern officials.

“We want people to know that we are open to ideas and suggestions and we are trying to utilize that to its full capacity,” he said.

The football stadium and Koehler Hall of Fame Softball Complex are part of a project that ended up costing more than $60 million. He said the original goal was $45 million.

“That’s not including asking individuals for donations and pledges. This was a very successful campaign. It was definitely a community and a regional effort that included multiple facets, the City of Aberdeen, two governors, obviously multiple organizations and private donors,” Fraase said. “We just can’t say thank you enough to those individuals and entities that saw that vision and helped it come to fruition.”

As a result, Northern State fans should have a gathering place to cheer on the Wolves, socialize with each other and enjoy the most modern conveniences that a football stadium has to offer for years and years to come.

Fraase encourages everyone who attends a contest to arrive early, take a look around and make the most of game day experiences.

“We encourage people to show up early, get into the game early, walk around and just take it all in and enjoy it. This is a regional asset. It’s going to enhance the campus and the student experience, but it’s also going to enhance our fan experience,” Fraase said. “I think people should enjoy that, especially after the year that we’ve had with so many factors. We need to celebrate, we need to enjoy, and we need to say thank you.”

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