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Tailgating area, nursing section among Alerus Center changes

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Relocating tailgating areas and introducing spaces for nursing mothers are two of a few changes coming to the Alerus Center.

Kyle Doperalski, associate athletic director for UND, told the arena's board Wednesday his department and the Alerus Center will relocate tailgating sites before the first game Thursday.

The student tailgating lot is moving toward the southwest corner of the parking lot, Doperalski said, away from the main entrance.

"The closest lot would be entrance two, which is for students," Doperalski said.

Tailgate Village will move closer to entrance one.

"The idea was to make Tailgate Village the focal point for all of the families who don't have seasonlong tailgating spots, or day-of-game, single-day tailgating spots," Doperalski said, which are located immediately next to Tailgate Village.

"The people who buy tailgating spots, those are the ones with the grills that they're going to bring out, and their buddies, and they all try to congregate together," Doperalski said. "Tailgate Village is for people who are not going to bring a grill, they're just showing up with their family and they're looking for things to do and to buy food."

This season, families walking through Tailgate Village will find inflatables and other activities, along with food from Deeks, Sickies and Ground Round.

"Through the different configuration," Doperalski said, "we were able to add more than 40 new tailgating spots that we were able to sell."

Alerus Center leadership also unveiled a new lactation suite for mothers in Wednesday's meeting. Director of Corporate Partnerships Derek Hoffert said the suite has been available for the last couple of weeks, but the center waited until Wednesday to officially announce the service.

The room offers mothers three "lactation pods," or seating sections cloaked in black curtains, where mothers can sit and breastfeed, pump milk or mix formula in peace. There are also two changing stations and a small table in the center of the room with crayons and coloring books.

The Alerus Center still allows mothers to feed or pump throughout the rest of the venue, Hoffert said.

"It's for anyone who'd like a quiet space reserved from the hustle and bustle of our building."

Down the road, Hoffert said leadership will transform two old telephone rooms into more enclosed lactation rooms.

"Who needs a phone room in 2018? We all have cellphones," Hoffert said.

The conference room lactation suite will remain until funding is available to repurpose the phone rooms.

Alerus Center leadership got approval to offer event-goers a designated outdoor smoking area, an amenity that, without earlier approval, would have violated an old no-smoking policy from the commission.

Assistant General Manager Danny Malise said Wednesday the only concern left is a city ordinance forbidding event patrons from leaving a venue with alcohol. Malise assured commissioners his staff will prohibit guests from bringing drinks outside the center, even with smoking sites.

"When we got here last July, a lot of the concerts we had, people would always come by and ask, 'Hey, where can I smoke?' " Malise said.

In May, he said, staff decided to test out a smoking area outside the venue. Shortly afterward, Malise said he and colleagues learned the attempt violated the commission's no-smoking policy. "We want to be as accommodating for all the visitors that come in as we can," Malise told board members, but his No. 1 concern is ensuring compliance with existing policies.

With the board's approval, the Alerus Center plans to have one or more sites monitored by staff members in time for the Metallica concert on Sept. 8. Afterward, city staff suggested Malise and others check back in with them to formalize the center's policy.

Emily Allen

Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.

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