Architect: Icon Architectural Group
Date opened: November 9, 2015
Total area:  155,000 square feet
Total cost:  $19 million
Number of sports practiced:  

Sport Architecture

The new sports facility at the University of North Dakota is spectacular. Inside, there is an athletics track with Super X 720 surface, the official surface of the Daegu World Championships 2011 and the eight editions of the Olympic Games until 2004. was also the chosen surface by the organization of the Olympic Games in London 2012 and Beijing 2008.

“The athletes noticed the difference in the track right away, they are just flying because there is no wind. Early in the season, the athletes were running better than their best times last year. Kevin Galbraith, Head Coach Track & Field at the University of North Dakota

The "WOW" Factor!

The administration of the University of North Dakota (UND) has always been committed in ensuring that their student-athletes receive the best technology applied to sports. This tradition continued with the construction of the High Performance Center (HPC), structure built on the former site of the old arena for hockey Ralph Engelstad. A majestic and spectacular sports facility inside“UND athletics has always tried to get the top-notch technology and facilities,” says Erik Martinson, director of facilities and game operations for UND athletics. “The best thing is to see the look on people’s faces as they walk into the building. The way the track pops against the green turf is really pretty amazing when you see it with the unique lighting ring that goes directly over the track.”

The Center is set up for use by UND athletes, and possibly hosting of high school events in the future. Although not open to the public without invitation, groups could rent the facility for use.

New era for track & field

A sports complex in which its name contains the words "high performance" could not fail to adopt an ultra fast track, like the one installed by Mondo. The 8 lanes, 300 m track, features a Mondo Super X 720 surface..

The NCAA regulation 300 meter track features eight 42-inch lanes with alternating brick red and beige stripes. “The athletes noticed the difference in the track right away, they are just flying because there is no wind,” says Galbraith. “Early in the season, the athletes were running better than their best times last year. As a coach, that’s what we are looking for. Obviously that track helps, but not being in the outdoor elements is also a factor so we can really get into the training. That can’t be over emphasized for the success of the runners.”

Another unique factor for the facility is the inlaid lines on the track. “This is a big maintenance saver because normally, you have to repaint the lines every five to seven years,” says Todd Blixt. “In this case the track will never need repainting, and will always look fresh and new.”

The University of North Dakota staff is pleased with the facility and is looking forward to using it, he adds. “It’s certainly going to help with future athletic activities and recruiting.”


An epoch change

The construction of the High Performance Center (HPC) has revolutionized the way we work out not only the track team, but all sports activities at the University of North Dakota. In addition to the athletics track, the facility has a regular size (100 yards) football field with Mondoturf with Monofibre 3NX.

“Before, I could only do the training that the weather would allow. We had a very small indoor area and it was 11 laps per mile on a very hard surface. We could also never run 2 days in a row. Now that won’t be the case. We’ll be able to do the training we need to when we need to do it, and not what the weather or the facility will allow.” says Galbraith.

Beyond the track events and football, Martinson is anticipating positive feedback from the baseball and softball teams. “We are going from a baseball program where players could only hit so many times in the batting cage to doing defensive drills,” he says. “Softball is doing the same thing. They’re doing running, sprinting and doing long toss. Before they had to be either on a treadmill or run in a very small circle. Now they can do whatever they want.”

Martinson notes there will be times where four or five different sports can be practising at one time in one building in the middle of winter. “That’s pretty phenomenal because we’ve never had that before.”

Thanks to its characteristics, HPC it has now become an important resource, both for recruiting new student-athletes and maintaining those already present at the University of North Dakota. "With this facility, continues the tradition of UND in creating competitive teams at the national level," said Robert Kelley, President of the University


Choosing Mondo products for the UND High Performance Center came after lengthy research, but the decision was based on past performance of the product. “We knew that Mondo was a best because of the association with the Olympics and other high-profile events,” says Martinson. “With our state-of-the-art facility we wanted state-of-the-art technology in flooring because it would be a game changer with the programs. We want this track to be the fastest in the world.”

In addition to fast, the new surface absorbs the shock that usually affects the joints of the runners as they run, and ensures the physical integrity of the athletes. "Having a good surface helps prevent accidents," said sprinter Seth Adkins. "Not only that, it also allows you to push harder and more often," adds Galbraith

Generous community steps up

In North Dakota, according to state law public funds cannot be used to build athletic facilities. In the case of the UND High Performance Center, every dollar was raised privately. “It’s really amazing when you think about it,” says Kevin Galbraith, head coach, track & field. “There were a lot of people who came on board to give not only their support, but their hard-earned cash to make this a reality. We had alums donate millions of dollars in cash to get this built, and we are fortunate because we have very successful alums from the school.”

Other notable contributors included a $9 million leadership gift from Altru Health Systems, who has a partnership with UND’s medical school, and a $1 million contribution from SCHEELS.  Phase 2 of the facility will also be completed with the generosity of the community, and will include football and track locker rooms, athletic department offices, sports medicine and seating for 1,500. 

Designing with style

The High Performance Center has been an ongoing project since 2010. Heading up the design is the Icon Architectural Group, who are pleased with the outcome of Phase 1 and are already forming plans for Phase 2.

Blixt says the main reason the track was done as a 300 meter length was to incorporate a regulation size football field in the center of it. “With the football field, the end zones are cropped a little because it doesn’t quite fit inside the track, but still performs well for its intended use. When the football team wants to run end zone pattern plays, they usually move the cones 10 yards out. Then they can dive on the field instead of diving on the track. It also helps having the field striped different colors to distinguish the different end zone locations.”

 “Using the MondoTurf, we striped every 10 yards with a different shade of green, from dark to light to dark,” says Todd Blixt, architect with Icon Architectural Group. “People really like the way it breaks up the space with a classic look. The coaches like it too because on film, it’s easier to read how far the ball is getting thrown, how far their players ran and other details when they’re practicing.”