Our view: Push forward with plans to build an indoor sports facility in Grand Forks
We support the idea of an indoor sports facility – one that would be beneficial not only for residents but one that could create events that would bring people to town.
Indoor turf – in fact any sort of indoor activities center that can be used year-round – is a trend that’s late coming to Grand Forks.
A number of regional cities and entities have understood the importance of indoor facilities, not only as a place for local athletes to practice but also as a destination for wintertime activities.
Sioux Falls, S.D., is a good example. That community has a number of indoor facilities available for use during the cold months. The city also has benefited greatly by making sports a tourist attraction.
It’s considerably larger than Grand Forks – with a population of 177,000 – but smaller towns are doing it, too.
Sioux Center, Iowa, population 8,200, is in the early stages of building an $8 million indoor sports complex. The town – just an hour from Sioux Falls – soon will see an air-inflated dome that will host youth and college sports teams, wellness programs for adults and various sports tournaments. Its turf, according to the Sioux City Journal, will be designed for soccer, youth football, softball, athletic practices, recreation activities, and other multi-purpose uses.
And get this: Local officials there estimate that the facility will draw upwards of 200,000 visitors per year to the city.
City Manager Scott Wynja told the Sioux City Journal the facility “will be great for the community and also a great regional attraction that will bring people to Sioux Center.”
Grand Forks officials are noticing the trend.
“As other cities are adding multi-use turf facilities around our region, the topic has become more frequent and the benefits are becoming more evident,” Jill Nelson, of the Grand Forks Park District, told the Herald earlier this month.
Nelson said the goal of an indoor turf facility and an indoor aquatics center is to provide recreational activities to residents year-round. That, she said, would drive more economic impact in the community.
And this from City Administrator Todd Feland: “No. 1, we’re interested in the quality of life aspects to attract and retain people in our community and region and No. 2, we know there’s going to be a significant economic impact.”
We agree, and especially as potential locations seem to abound, possibly including the Columbia Mall, Grand Cities Mall and on city-owned land near the Alerus Center.
Wherever a new indoor facility is built, it would be wise to consider adding a competitive swimming facility there as well. Not only would it benefit local swimmers, but it also would increase the facility’s ability to draw people to town.
Shortly after her organization won a statewide award Wednesday during a North Dakota Tourism conference, Visit Greater Grand Forks Executive Director Julie Rygg noted the importance of touting Grand Forks events because “they really are our attractions.”
The same would be true for an indoor sports facility – one that would be beneficial not only for residents but one that could create events that would bring people to town.
We’re encouraged by the Park District’s early efforts to push ahead with this proposal.