VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) — Work will begin this summer on the new outdoor practice area for the University of South Dakota's football team.

The Coyotes may be able to use the new outdoor fields later this fall or when practice begins in the spring, the Argus Leader reported .

"Facilities are part of what student-athletes look at," said Coach Bob Nielson. "And to know that the university is committed to moving forward is important. It's important to them and it's important to us as a program. It positions us exceptionally well for the future."

The project is part of the university's $26.3 million transformation of its athletic facilities. More detailed renderings of the finished product will be available later this summer, said David Herbster, the university's athletic director.

Work will also replace the portable bleachers with permanent seats. The football locker room, team meeting areas and offices will be located under the seats.

The next part of the project includes the interior renovation of the DakotaDome, which will continue into next year.

"The Dome is really an iconic facility in this state and to make this kind of major renovation, something that will make it an even better facility, is exciting for all of us at the University," Nielson said.

The Dome opened as a multi-sport venue in 1979.

South Dakota is one of four Division I athletic programs in the Dakotas.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com