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OUR OPINION: Congrats to Alerus Center's team

The financial situation at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks seems to have been turned around. That's great news -- and it's especially welcome because it validates so many decisions that have come before.

The financial situation at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks seems to have been turned around. That's great news -- and it's especially welcome because it validates so many decisions that have come before.

Starting with the decision to build the Alerus Center itself.

Grand Forks threw the dice when it decided to build the center. The risk wasn't really that the center would lose money; events centers rarely make money. Instead, the centers are meant to draw free-spending visitors and lots of attention to a community.

But some events centers fail to accomplish even those things. The Alerus Center could have been among them. Grand Forks could have wound up with an albino-white elephant, a building that hemorrhaged dollars so powerfully that the city couldn't even keep it open.

That didn't happen. Instead, management teams kept trying different formulas to maximize the center's revenue. The center didn't soar, but it didn't sink, either. And on balance, Grand Forks residents enjoyed the events and felt proud about the new stature the Alerus Center brought to town.

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Then the Canad Inns facility opened, and the Alerus Center hit its stride.

As a result, "Grand Forks' Alerus Center is projecting another profit this year and aiming for the same in 2009, staff told members of the city's events center commission Wednesday," Herald staff writer Tu-Uyen Tran reported ("Alerus Center projects profits in '08 and '09," Page A1, May 22).

Remember, the hotel's opening was no accident. It came about because of hard work, smart decision-making and good negotiating on the part of city officials, as well as the inspiring confidence placed in Grand Forks by Canad Inns' President Leo Ledohowski.

And since the hotel opened, business at the Alerus Center and the hotel alike has been terrific. The Alerus Center flawlessly hosted the state Democratic Convention, an event where -- considering the crowds, the security, the media and the intense time pressure created by the presidential candidates' visits -- countless things could have gone wrong, but didn't.

Smaller and more frequent events are on tap, too. It appears that the city's pursuit of an attached luxury hotel was a smart move, and Grand Forks now is reaping the benefits of that planning and foresight.

Congratulations to city leaders, Canad Inns' team, the Alerus Center's management and everyone else who's had a hand in the facility's success. Building the Alerus Center to a position of financial strength is an accomplishment in which all of Grand Forks should take pride.

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