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Frontier Preview: Frontier venues are historic and unique

2013 Frontier Conference Football Preview

 

August 16, 2013

Courtesy photo

An overhead view of historic Blue Pony Stadium, which is not only home to Havre High football, but is also home to the Montana State University-Northern Lights.

There’s a lot of history when it comes to Frontier Conference football. Great players, great teams, national championships, memorable games and, of course, historic campuses around the Treasure State.

Adding to the history, the Frontier houses some of the most unique, and nicest football venues in all of the NAIA. And that fact only adds to the lore of the premier football conference in the west.

For the Montana State University-Northern Lights, Blue Pony Stadium has been home since the school resurrected the football program over a decade ago. An on-campus stadium is still a desire one day, but the Lights certainly have a great alternative.

Set in the scenic “Cycle Valley,” Blue Pony Stadium has always been one of the unique football venues in Montana. The parking tiers and views from above the stadium are well-known, but Havre Public Schools has also made major renovations over the years, including the installation of the metal seating on both sides, and more recently, a brand new scoreboard at the east of the stadium.

Yes, the name says Blue Pony Stadium, and Havre High has run wild there for years. But for more than a decade, the MSU-Northern Lights have made Saturdays a maroon-and-gold affair, and that makes Blue Pony Stadium one of the best in the Frontier Conference.

Here’s a look at the rest of the stadiums in Frontier.

Nelson Stadium, Helena

Carroll College’s Nelson Stadium is perhaps the most well-known facility in the Frontier. Maybe it’s because the Saints have done a lot of winning there since they moved out of old Vigilante Stadium. But Nelson, which holds more than 7,000 fans, big for NAIA standards is a great venue regardless. The stadium is a grass boll, with a main grand stand, including a lavish press box, which used to be part of Reno H. Sales Stadium in Bozeman. Nelson’s proximity to a main street, as well as its proximity to other on-campus facilities, along with great tailgating, makes it easily the best football facility in the Frontier.

Herb-Klindt Field, Billings

The Rocky Bowl has been around a long, long time, but the dedication of Herb Klindt Field didn’t happen until 1970. The stadium, which houses the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears, is another famous grass bowl, with capacity flowing up to more than 5,000 if needed. It too is a great on-campus site, and its location is prime for football games on Saturday afternoons. It is also one of the few stadiums left in the Frontier which doesn’t have lights.

Alumni Coliseum, Butte

As historic a structure as there is in Montana sports, Butte’s Alumni Coliseum is home to Montana Tech football. It was the former home of Pioneer League baseball in Butte, but the Orediggers have the stadium all to themselves now. Major renovations have really changed the 5,000-seat football stadium. Tech added a new scoreboard with high-definition video screen, as well as new seating and, finally, just this summer, a new artificial playing surface, appropriately named Bob Green Field, in honor of the legendary head coach who has also been key in fundraising for the upgrades.

Vigilante Field, Dillon

One of three stadiums in the Frontier which house a high school football and Frontier Conference football program, Vigilante Field in Dillon is home to the UM-Western Bulldogs. The stadium, much like Blue Pony Stadium, has its own unique location — downtown Dillon — and is actually used by both the Western campus, and Beaverhead County High. Large metal seating on both sides of the field allow for capacity of well more than 3,000, and though a track surrounds the field, it’s still a very cozy atmosphere, and one Bulldog fans use to create a great home-field advantage.

Community Stadium, LaGrande, Ore.

The home of Eastern Oregon football, Community Stadium is also a popular site for high school football games on Friday night’s. But like Western and Northern at their shared stadiums, EOU certainly makes its presence felt there. Since joining the Frontier, the Mounties have had a solid home record, and Community Stadium has become one of the toughest places for visiting Frontier teams to play. The stadium is known for windy, but warm, conditions due to the desert climate in northeast Oregon. And it’s also known for a beautiful, lush grass surface, which is always in great condition, even when there’s heavy football traffic on it throughout the fall.

Raider Stadium, Ashland, Ore.

Courtesy photo

Carroll College's Nelson Stadium has the largest capacity of any stadium in the Frontier Conference.

Raider Stadium, built in 1983, cost $1.55 million and is the home venue for Southern Oregon's football team. The stadium seats 4,000 with a unique covered grandstand on the west side of the field and risers on the east side. The field at the stadium, named Fuller Field after John Fuller, has been the home field of the Raider's football team since 1955. In 1999 the Meyer Fitness Center, which lies under the grandstand, was renovated to include a second floor, effectively doubling the floor space available for use. In just its first year in the Frontier, Raider Stadium was home to the best game of the 2012 NAIA season, a wild shoot-out between the Red Raiders and Carroll College last November.

Henry Biesiot Activity Center, Dickinson, N.D.

The newest stadium in the Frontier, the HBAC opened for play just two seasons ago, and was first known as the Badlands Activity Center. Now renamed for the great Dickinson State head coach, the HBAC is state of the art, and as new as it gets in NAIA football. A sprint-turf artificial surface, club seating, lights, an Olympic-size track, a great press box and private suites are just a few of the things which make this venue one of the best in all of NAIA football.

 

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