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AD considers auctioning off old REA parts

UND's athletic department may be putting the old Ralph Engelstad Arena up for sale one seat at a time. UND Athletic Director Tom Buning said Wednesday his department is kicking around the idea of selling or auctioning off parts of the old arena a...

UND's athletic department may be putting the old Ralph Engelstad Arena up for sale one seat at a time.

UND Athletic Director Tom Buning said Wednesday his department is kicking around the idea of selling or auctioning off parts of the old arena as souvenirs for committed fans.

"There's not much left in the building, I think the seats are about the only thing," Buning said. "We've toyed with what to do. . . You could mount (the seat) on a plaque and say 'My butt warmed this seat for 20 years' or 'I stood on this seat for 10 years' if it was in the student section."

Rick Tonder, associate director of facilities, said the university is in the process of "mothballing" the arena to cut down on maintenance costs, but lacks funds to demolish the building. Buning said selling souvenir items from the arena could cover part of the cost of demolition or proceeds could be used to purchase athletic equipment.

Buning said the athletic department is gauging interest in the plan and will proceed if the idea seems profitable.

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"We certainly don't want to spend $10 to make $5," he said. "If we can discern a level of interest, we'll gather together a group of our boosters and get started. Our new Web site gives us a place to run an auction if we'd like to, so we don't have to go to eBay or something."

Tonder was intrigued by the idea of selling parts, of the arena as memorabilia but said he doubted that would finance the building's entire demolition cost, even coupled with the salvage price of other scrap metal in the building.

Demolishing the arena would cost about $1 million, Tonder said, and the university could not embark on the project without a funding source in place.

The arena, which was originally called the Winter Sports Center, opened in 1972, replacing an earlier arena known as "the barn." The 6,076-seat arena was named after former UND hockey player Ralph Engelstad in 1988 and replaced by the current $100 million Ralph Engelstad Arena in 2001.

The athletic department and UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center, which is next to the old hockey arena, have both discussed plans for the arena land in recent years. If either group got funding for a building project on the land, Tonder said, demolition costs might be easier to come by, but the state is unlikely to chip in.

Buning said the athletic department has no current plans for a building project on the arena's site.

"(What's inside) is probably its greatest value in the future," he said. "The greatest impediment to making it go away is the cost of making it go away."

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