Story by Brandi Jewett and Erik Burgess (Fargo Forum)
The Fargo City Commission agreed Monday to spend $95,000 to study the feasibility of expanding the Fargodome.
The expansion would likely be at least 50,000 square feet, and initial cost estimates are expected to be $34 million or more, according to Rob Sobolik, the dome’s general manager.
The expansion may take the form of a two-story convention center on the building’s south end or it may be built downtown. The Fargodome currently has nine meeting rooms with space that can accommodate 12 to 1,000, according to its website.
Fargodome officials have in the past said they wanted a convention space like Grand Forks’ Alerus Center, citing the center’s exhibition space and the connected hotel, restaurant and bar.
Alerus Center Executive Director Cheryl Swanson said she couldn’t comment on the expansion without seeing the results of the study, which is scheduled to be done in October.
She said it’s possible the study could uncover pros and cons that might affect the overall project. “I don’t really have an opinion yet,” she said. “It likely won’t affect how the Alerus Center operates.”
The Alerus Center saw an increase in event attendance and profits in 2012 over the previous year. It hosts an average 550 events each year, most of them in its convention center rather than the arena.
The Fargodome study will be done by HVS Convention, Sports and Entertainment Facilities Consulting of Chicago.
The Fargo Dome Authority has about $34 million in its reserve fund and about half of that would likely be used to fund the expansion. The last major addition to the Fargodome was a $6.8 million lobby that opened in 2000.