Looking at the current facilities available with an every growing city and school system, Bismarck Public Schools (BPS) knew there was a need to add another facility outside of the Bismarck Community Bowl that could be used by everybody within the BPS school district. What was started as a football, soccer, and track stadium has resulted in all of those amenities plus an artificial turf softball field, artificial turf baseball field, grass baseball, grass softball, practice facilities, a grass soccer field and a tennis court area.
Originally named the Bismarck Athletic Complex, located just west of Legacy High School, BPS Activities Director Dave Zittleman turned to the community to help get the project off the ground. “We had funding in place from Bismarck Public Schools, but we knew we needed support from our community in order to finish that facility,” says Zittleman. The athletic complex is a public-private partnership that provides more space for youth of all ages at all schools and colleges, as well as adult leagues, to run track and play football, soccer, baseball, softball and tennis year-round. In 2017, the Bismarck School Board committed approximately $10 million to the project, and a committee has worked and is still working to raise the rest privately.
There have been many benefits as a result of the complex and each individual field including better practice and competition times for the area’s youth with added scheduling flexibility, specifically in the spring and the fall but even into the summer. Other benefits include added seating for spectators, fans, and parents, having a state-of-the-art physical education facility for BPS, and it has also allowed the relocation of events from other grass fields in Bismarck-Mandan to the artificial turf field(s) due to less than perfect weather at the time of the event.
With naming rights available to the entire athletic complex as well as each individual field and other various sponsorships available, the now-named Sanford Sports Complex, is home to the Dakota Community Bank & Trust (DCB&T) Field which encompasses football, soccer, and track. Zittleman states, “Knowing that the bank is big into sponsorship of our community’s youth, we knew that Dakota Community Bank & Trust would be a great partner in our community because they are willing to support facilities for both kids and adults. They are now a very major part of that place.”
As a major donor to the school district’s athletic complex, DCB&T President and CEO Dale Pahlke says, “Dakota Community Bank & Trust is proud to support the Bismarck Public School system students in developing and furthering their athletic skills. We also believe athletics, along with academics, are vital to the growth of our youth.”
In the short time since its completion, the complex has already hosted several regional events, large football games, community events, and more. “Last year, at one time, we had six events going on simultaneously. We had it all going on, on all of the fields. It was pretty incredible to be able to walk around and watch just about everything. The only thing we didn’t have going on was a track meet around the outside of a soccer game,” recalls Zittleman.
The mission of all activities through BPS is about kids having an opportunity to participate and build life skills from various athletics and activities. “We have been very successful with athletics and activities in Bismarck. I think that is a direct correlation with how the community supports our activities. We get a lot of great support from fans. It is incredible the support that we get from community participation. I am pretty proud of that,” closes Zittleman.
For more information on the BPS Sanford Sports Complex including the future phase 3 additions to the complex, visit: https://www.bpsfoundation.com/bps-athletic-complex-giving/.
Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director