Alerus Center looks at $5.4 million upgrade
Alerus Center officials went before city leaders Wednesday with their multimillion-dollar facility improvement plan for this year and the next. If the City Council gives the go-ahead, the center would spend $5.4 million to jazz up the building's ...
Alerus Center officials went before city leaders Wednesday with their multimillion-dollar facility improvement plan for this year and the next.
If the City Council gives the go-ahead, the center would spend $5.4 million to jazz up the building's appearance, add colorful electronic reader boards and build a new glass-curtain entrance into the convention side of the building.
The spending would be the biggest investment in the building since it opened in 2001.
Randy Newman, chairman of the Alerus Center commission, said the center is entering "another phase" now that it has a new executive director, an attached Canad Inns complex fully open and UND playing its first game as a Division I team.
City leaders, though they'd just finished duking it out over a $410,000 cut to the 2009 budget, didn't bat an eye at the $5.4 million the Alerus Center folks want.
Funding would come from the ¾-percent sales tax that voters agreed to dedicate to the center.
Even if city leaders wanted to pay the debt off early, they wouldn't be able to, according to Curt Kreun, a council member and commissioner. A condition of the debt -- in the form of municipal bonds -- is the city has to wait at least 15 years before repaying bondholders.
The facility improvement plan came at the urging of executive director Steve Hyman, whose reputation as economic development chief in Moline, Ill., helped him get his present job.
He told city leaders that the Alerus Center is three buildings in one -- a stadium, an arena and a convention center -- and it needs three distinct entrances.
Two south end entrances could be made distinct with new signs, such as a big lighted sign proclaiming the home of UND football.
The other entrance, the convention center entrance on the east side close to Canad Inns, would require new construction, he said.
The Alerus Center has been on the up and up since last year when it broke even on its operational budget. So far this year, the number of conventions held there is up 286 percent from the average between 2005 and 2007. The number of wedding receptions hosted there is up 155 percent.
The center also is close to signing a 10-year lease agreement with UND for use of the stadium.
UND President Robert Kelley is reviewing the agreement now, Hyman said, and he expects a done deal sometime in September.
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