On January 30th, 2019, the Minnesota State Board of Trustees was slated to hand down a long-awaited decision on the construction of an all-season, weatherproof inflatable sports dome at the Minnesota State University Campus.
However, on the morning of January 30th, the board announced the decision on the dome would be postponed until an as-of-yet unannounced future date. The reason for this postponement was simple: frigid winter weather.
The turn of events was ironic, given the reason MSU students voted overwhelmingly in favour of raising their fees to finance the dome last December.
The proposed $4 million inflatable dome, which would cover a length of artificial turf equal to 1.5 soccer fields, would enable MSU field sports players to continue practicing on a full-sized field throughout the harsh Minnesota winters. The 108,000 sq.ft. sports dome would be insulated and equipped with a powerful heating and ventilation system to maintain an ideal temperature despite the frigid temperature outside.
Inflatable domes are also weatherproof and designed to resist snow, ice and hail. In the summer, when the temperature was warm, the university would deflate the dome and open the fields to the outdoors. The dome would ideally last between 15 and 20 years.
Had the board approved the project in January, a sports dome maker in Minnesota could have kicked off construction on the project as early as May 2019. The facility was originally planned to open by November 1st next autumn. However, that deadline could change in wake of the recent delays.
The project was put to a referendum on December 4, 2018, and the Minnesota State University student body voted 1,900 to 997 to support it. Tuition would increase by $0.83 per credit to finance half of the $4 million dome. The remainder would come from rental fees paid by local youth sports groups who would use the facility. The project has also generated interest from Minnesota’s philanthropic community, though no commitment has been formalized.
Regardless, student approval was only the first step in approving the project. It also had to pass the scrutiny of the Minnesota State Board of Trustees, which governs most of the state’s public colleges and universities. The board’s Finance and Facilities Committees have both given it the thumbs-up, so it is left to the full board to grant final approval.
According to MSU VP of Student Affairs David Jones, the board typically approves self-financed projects that have already been approved by the university’s students and administration.
Despite the weather, all bodes well for MSU’s long-belated sports dome.