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Montana Western football breaks ground on new on-campus facility

Posted at 3:20 PM, Aug 16, 2023

DILLON — Montana Western head football coach Ryan Nourse figures someday he'll count just how many hundreds of games he's racked up as a player and coach at Vigilante Stadium over the past decades.

And while that stadium's days are now officially numbered, he knows that the field affectionately dubbed "the cow pasture" will always hold a special place in Western athletics history.

"Bittersweet," is how Nourse described it.

The Bulldogs held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday morning for its new on-campus football facility that will be a built around a turf field, a playing surface that will be a far cry from the icy tundra that Vigilante often transforms into during November games.

It's hoped that the stadium will open in time for the 2024 season, 100 years after Montana Western football was first founded.

Senior defensive lineman Tanner Harrell will have graduated by the time the new field opens, but he said he's thankful to have been part of making it a reality.

"It's just incredible to know that these guys that are coming in now get the chance to play on this beautiful new stadium," he said. "It's amazing what it's going to turn out to be an I'm just thankful that we got to be a part of building it."

In March 2022, Western announced that it was halfway toward its fundraising goal and that a 14-acre parcel of land adjacent to campus had been pledged to the university by John and Phyllis Erb after Western crossed a $2 million fundraising threshold.

The deed to the land was officially transferred to Western this week, clearing the way for Wednesday's ceremony.

Western athletic director Michael Feuling was hired in November 2021 and fulfilling the Bulldogs' goal of having an on-campus football field has been a top priority since his first day.

"I remember during my interview process they talked about this stadium and future that it would mean for the program and the university," Feuling said. "It didn't hit me until you actually put the shovel into the ground. And as ceremonial as it was, that's when you got the goosebumps

"And then you take a look out and see all the people that have contributed and all the current and future Bulldogs that are gonna have a chance to play here and what this will mean for the city."

Western is still looking to raise about $1.2 million to go along with $3.6 million that's already been raised to see this project through to completion. Nourse has little doubt that the community of Dillon will come through.

"Every dime and every dollar matters," said Nourse. "The generosity here is always incredible. I believe whatever gap remains will get closed in short order."