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Alerus Center entering contract negotiations with Philadelphia-based firm

In a little more than a month, Grand Forks city leaders could ink a deal placing the management of the Alerus Center under a Philadelphia-based management firm, owned by the same parent company as the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Alerus Center in Grand Forks. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
The Alerus Center in Grand Forks. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

In a little more than a month, Grand Forks city leaders could ink a deal placing the management of the Alerus Center under a Philadelphia-based management firm, owned by the same parent company as the Philadelphia Flyers.

Members of the Grand Forks' Events Center Commission decided in a series of 6-0 votes to pursue a contract the event management firm Spectra. Earlier this month, a group of Alerus Center leaders and city officials interviewed applicants to manage the events center, which also included SMG, the company that operates U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"(Spectra) came with real dollars, and said 'Here's what we think we can do,' where others were fairly general at the time," Pat McLean, an Events Center Commission member, said of interviews. "They had done their homework. I think they brought in, my God, 10 people. ... We could tell they were really sincere in wanting (the role)."

Commission member Hal Gershman said Philadelphia Flyers coach and former UND men's hockey coach Dave Hakstol called him to endorse Spectra.

Events Center Commission member Curt Kreun was absent from the meeting.

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The working plan, Alerus Center leaders said, is to draw up a contract for review at the commission's May meeting. If a deal cannot be reached, SMG is the next company with which they'll begin negotiations.

Both companies operate a network of venues around the country, with SMG also operating properties around the world.

Alerus Center leaders are seeking new management following the firing of top officials at the center in January after reports of a dysfunctional workplace. They're also working against falling profits, though supporters of the center are quick to point to a sluggish economy as a factor in that trend.

"I'm excited," said Julie Rygg, chairperson of the Events Center Commission. "I think we're moving ahead with the Alerus Center and for the community."

Related Topics: HAL GERSHMAN
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