New Dome Covers Edor Nelson Field
Kevin Sethre, staff writer
At the beginning of December, a new dome was raised over Edor Nelson Field in what has become a yearly tradition at Augsburg. The old dome, which was only supposed to be used for 10-12 years, was finally replaced after 15 years of use.
According to Stephen Jendraszak, the Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communication at Augsburg, the new dome is “functionally similar” to the old one, and it is the same size, but there are some enhancements. The new dome “has two inflation units” and “features LED illumination and a skylight for a brighter interior.” In an interview with the Echo, Athletic Director Jeff Swenson added that the use of a skylight reduces the need for use of electricity during the day, meaning that the new dome is both more cost-effective and eco-friendlier than the old one.
The dome was expensive, with the contract price landing at $1.13 million, according to Jendraszak, and “after accounting for electrical, mechanical, and other the work the total cost will be $1.2 million.” Still, Swenson thinks it is worth the investment. Not only is the dome used for winter practices by the baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer, softball and track and field teams, but it is also rented out to other companies during nights and on weekends.
Jendraszak also wanted to clarify that funds from the green fee were not used for the dome project, but “the purchase was financed with a lease that includes rebates based on energy savings on campus.” The agreement “also includes $966k of investment in LED lighting and HVAC improvements on campus. The expected energy savings from those improvements will be used to repay the lease over time.”
In past years, student athletes have had to put up the dome, but this year, the process was different. Students and other workers were hired by Yeadon Domes as contractors and paid $37/hour to complete the project. While it was more costly and took longer than it has in the past, Swenson said that the decision was made based on several factors, with the main ones being the fact that professionals who are more experienced with projects like the dome setup are less likely to get injured on the job, and students who take time out of their day to perform manual labor deserve to make money for their efforts. Jendraszak added that the school wanted to maintain the dome setup tradition but also wanted to be able to “manage the liability involved.”
As it has in past years, the dome will be up until March, when it is taken down early in the spring athletic season. The softball team’s traditional Auggie Dome Games will be played in the dome on March 4 and 5 and feature doubleheaders against Crown College and UW-River Falls.