Significant Donation to the University of Mary Moves Plan Forward for New Athletics Complex

Renderings of all the fields with the dome up.

New plans for the Athletics Complex revealed 

BISMARCK, ND — Phase II of the University of Mary’s three-phase $272 million Vision 2030 Capital Campaign that launched in 2015 already got off to a tremendous start in February of 2022 following a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase I closed in January of 2019 by surpassing its goal with just over $100 million raised total. Phase II was launched with a $12 million gift from Harold Hamm and Continental Resources, and now through the generosity of others who have come forward with a very significant and generous gift allowing the University of Mary to move forward with plans for a new Athletics Complex on campus.  

“In early November we received news about a transformative gift which was the answer to many, many prayers,” announced University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea in front of hundreds of excited faculty and staff recently inside a jam-packed Arno Gustin Hall on campus. 

Shea later went on to add, “We are extremely grateful to these donors and to the many friends and benefactors of the University of Mary. Their generosity represents an unprecedented investment in our students, in the future of North Dakota, and in the great enterprise of Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine education for a new generation.”

Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff Jerome Richter, who also worked with the donors, says the timing of the gift was Providential. 

“It was a very emotional and humbling moment when I got to share this with our Board of Trustees, because we had just gotten word of the gift moments before our meeting,” Richter explained to the university community during the campus-wide meeting. “God is very good to us. It is very humbling to speak of our successes. There are some wonderful people who believe in us and are excited about what we are doing.”

What the University of Mary is doing through this Vision 2030 Strategic Plan is significant and will not only help foster the mission set forth by its founders — the Benedictine Sister of Annunciation Monastery — by meeting the needs of the people of this region and beyond, but also completely transform the campus. 

Already, Phase I brought about a new 276-bed Roers Hall; a fieldhouse and wellness center; the Warford Grotto for students and the public to honor Mary through prayer; a new state-of-the-art Lumen Vitae University Center — the campus hub; a new Workforce Development Initiative that helps employers in this state attract new workers and provides an opportunity for them to retain and develop their employees; and the start of a new hands-on Hamm School of Engineering.

The beginning of Phase II of the Vision 2030 campaign had four pillars and helped establish the new Saint Gianna School of Health Sciences and complete the new Hamm School of Engineering. The final two pillars include plans for an all-new Athletics Complex just east of the fieldhouse that would run parallel with highway 1804 and a Welcome Center on south campus.   

Just over a year ago on November 7, 2022, as part of Phase II the University of Mary announced plans for a new Athletics Complex that would bring football, baseball, soccer, and outdoor track competition back to campus for the ultimate student, fan, and scholar-athlete gameday experience. 

Over the course of the next year inflation sent original construction estimates up $18 million, according to Richter. With further consultation and feedback from trustees, donors, alumni, coaches, campaign chairs, contractors, and Bismarck Parks and Recreation, the University of Mary exercised its nimbleness and did what quarterbacks do during a football game after analyzing the defense. They called an audible and began altering the original plan and working on a new concept that has greater return on investment (ROI) and ultimately allows the university to be even better stewards of the hard-earned dollars entrusted to them by their donors.  

“We came up with the idea that we truly needed a Multipurpose Sports Dome,” Richter explained. “We want to bring outdoor sports back onto our campus because we have 1,400 fans that live right here on campus. And on a Saturday morning they can roll out of bed, or on a Thursday afternoon they can finish class and go watch the games. Imagine Coach Sarah Cook and her soccer scholar-athletes having a match right here on campus, how much easier it will be for our students to go.”

And that is where the biggest changes to the original plan come in. Instead of putting a dome over the new football field that runs north and south as stated in the original plan, the Multipurpose Sports Dome will be located just beyond the south end zone covering a full NCAA regulation soccer field running east and west that will also include markings for an NCAA softball diamond that cuts through the middle of the field facing north and south — serving as a home venue for both sports.

“Who is going to use this? Everyone,” emphasized Richter. “This is what is so amazing, everyone is going to be able to utilize this: every sports team, intramurals, and the public. We could have rented this out so many times last winter. We can build the Multipurpose Sports Dome for the same cost estimated for the original design of the baseball and softball fields in the first plan. But our Multipurpose Sports Dome will be used six to seven days a week.”

Meanwhile, the Marauders baseball team will continue to play their home games in town at the beautiful Bismarck Municipal Ballpark sharing it with the baseball community. It is already regarded as one of the best facilities in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) and region and is continually updated and renovated with improvements.

 What will remain the same for the athletic complex is the state-of-the-art Research and Performance Center (RPC). The RPC located between the Field House and new stadium serves as seating for football fans on its east side exterior and on the inside a weight room, training room, locker rooms, offices for football and soccer, and meeting rooms. The upper level will be classrooms for some St. Gianna School of Health Sciences and then transform into suites on gameday.

“This is a very significant step to begin moving forward with architectural surveying and soil boring testing. How quickly we begin moving is in God’s hands, not our own,” added Richter.

The fourth and final pillar of Phase II that fulfills an urgent need is the Welcome Center housing offices for admissions, alumni, military services, student development, and many others.

“The Welcome Center is an absolute game-changer. We believe in Benedictine hospitality; it is in our blood. But even our architecture must have it and the Welcome Center is going to be that. There will be a straight shot access from the south campus entrance where everyone can be received without getting lost.”

To see the updated photo renderings of the new University of Mary Athletics Complex visit


Anyone who wishes to learn more about the University of Mary can do so at or by contacting an admissions representative at, or by calling (701) 355-8030. The University of Mary is one of only 15 Recommended Cardinal Newman Society Residential Colleges and Universities in the US. 

About the University of Mary: True to its motto “lumen vitae”—The Light of Life—the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs and graduate programs animated by moral courage and leadership in chosen professions and service to the community. A private, co-educational Catholic institution, the University of Mary welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly 60 bachelor’s, 18 master’s, and five doctoral programs—in Business Administration, Education, Nursing Practice, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. The 20-sport Athletic Department adheres to its Greatness Through Virtue mission under the governance of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and the USA College Clay Target League. With more than 3,800 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Rome, Italy, as well as vibrant online offerings.