Ralph Engelstad Arena manager: Effect of hockey cancellation will be great

The economic impact at the Ralph Engelstad Arena alone could easily top $200,000. Elsewhere, hotels and others are preparing for the loss. “Definitely, there's no way this isn't going to have an impact on us,” said Julie Rygg, director of the Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Jody Hodgson, General Manager at Ralph Engelstad Arena, says that ultimately UND Athletics is the entity is ultimately most negatively impacted by the continually changing situation around Coronavirus. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The financial impact of the cancellation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament, originally scheduled for this weekend in Grand Forks, easily could top $200,000 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena alone.

The games – between UND and Colorado College – were called off early Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that the best-of-three series would still be open to fans. But by Wednesday evening, the NCHC declared fans would be barred out of concerns surrounding coronavirus.

Thursday came the latest and, for hockey fans, the worst – that there would be no games whatsoever.

No fans in the stands and no out-of-town visitors staying at area hotels will take a heavy toll not only on UND, but also to area businesses.

“It’s significant for sure,” Jody Hodgson, general manager at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, said in a brief Thursday morning phone call with the Herald.


Hodgson told the Herald he was anticipating attendance at this weekend’s games to be “slightly less than capacity.” REA can accommodate 11,643 people, with additional standing-room tickets available if need be. Take away the ticket sales, concessions and merchandise and the loss of revenue is severe. Hodgson said he had anticipated the net profit from the series to be $200,000.

“Our net profits support UND athletics, so at the end of the day and end of the year, UND athletics is the entity that ultimately is most negatively impacted by the situation, from a financial point of view,” Hodgson told the Herald.

It will have an impact elsewhere, too.

The effect of the cancellation extends throughout the city, affecting hotels, restaurants and bars. Pat Talya, assistant manager for the Econo Lodge hotel, said she gave refunds on 25 “no-cancel” reservations, a loss of more than $3,700.

“Well, we’re going to have to now, you know?” said Talya. “You have to do it.”

Talya added the loss could have been more still if the series would have lasted three games.

Joe Schneider, co-owner of Joe Black’s Bar and Grill in downtown Grand Forks, said his business – like many in Grand Forks – would have had a full bus ferrying people back and forth to the REA for the games. Schneider admits the cancellations will hurt his business, but he doesn’t believe people will stop going out.

“Yeah, there’s no hockey in town so it hurts, but I don’t think it’s a death knell,” he said.


Schneider likened the changing situation to “uncharted territory” and said he isn’t necessarily sure what to expect.

Julie Rygg, executive director at the Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau, was not able to provide specific figures on what the loss of the games means for the community, though she believes businesses will feel the impact since out-of-town visitors won’t be staying in hotels or going to restaurants. Still, she is hopeful the situation will improve.

“Definitely, there's no way this isn't going to have an impact on us,” Rygg said. “But hopefully people will stay healthy, and sometime soon we’ll be back to regular business.”

As a public service, the Herald has opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

Desk: 701-780-1110
What To Read Next
Get Local