Fundraising campaign for GF wellness center extends to grass rootsFundraising for the proposed Grand Forks wellness center received an unexpected boost recently. A potential major donor has asked for the naming rights for the facility’s parking lot.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
Fundraising for the proposed Grand Forks wellness center received an unexpected boost recently. A potential major donor has asked for the naming rights for the facility’s parking lot.
Organizers hadn’t thought of the parking lot as a potential money source. But they had a price tag for just about everything else, as they have successfully auctioned off the naming rights to all six tennis courts, both basketball courts, the running track, the community room, the spinning bikes room and the two-lane lap pool.
Among options still available are locker rooms and the swimming complex, with a $1 million asking price.
Choice Financial, a local bank, has received the building naming rights for $2.75 million, the top contributor for the $16 million committed. But organizers are still hoping the other local banks will combine for a $1 million pledge.
While major donors are still being pursued, the effort will move into the general campaign in about two weeks. About 75 fundraising volunteers are being trained in the art of seeking donations from businesses, groups, organizations and individuals.
The hope is to reach $20 million, which would prompt the start of construction with infrastructure being installed this fall.
“The magic number for the Park Board approving it seems to be $4 million more,” said Cam Tweten, the general manager of Center Court Fitness, the Park District-owned facility that would be replaced by the Choice Wellness Center. “If we can reach $20 million, we can build.”
Tweten and Debbie Thompson, the Y’s CEO, are leading the fundraising efforts. The Y will receive money for renovations and youth scholarships as part of its partnership with the Park District.
Tweten said membership dues also might be a way to cover building costs. The plan calls for the dues to be used for operating costs, but they could be used for the capital project if membership increases. Twelve percent of Grand Forks’ population is a member of Center Court or the Y. In Fargo, Minot, Bismarck, Dickinson and Aberdeen, S.D., the membership is at 22 percent to 30 percent.
“If we can get to 20 percent, we might be able to use some of it for capital costs,” he said.
There is reason to believe memberships will be higher with a new facility that offers more options. Tweten also said that several large employers prefer to buy corporate membership packages for their workers rather than make donations. Major employers subsidizing health club memberships as a benefit has grown in popularity.
Tweten and his allies have been seeking donors for the proposed wellness center for more than two years. He concedes that the process has taken longer than expected.
“Raising money was a first for a lot of us, plus this much money had never been raised before,” he said. “So, we were treading new waters. Our expectations maybe were too high.
“We haven’t failed, but it has taken longer than hoped. The economic situation has not helped us, either.”
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to email@example.com.