Our view: Swim facility appears to be critical need

Grand Forks needs a competition-sized swimming pool.

3/29/23 Herald pull quote
Herald graphic

Grand Forks needs a competition-sized swimming pool. It’s not just for practices for local students and teams, but as a place to provide swim lessons and, even, a way to draw people to town for local events.

At the same time, a need is growing for a facility for other indoor sports, such as soccer.

In a report in Saturday’s edition of the Herald, proponents of new indoor facilities gave their thoughts on why the community needs to make a push for a new aquatics center and indoor sports facility. It’s been a discussion that’s been happening for years, but one that seems to be coming to a head in recent months.

One reason is the news that the Hyslop Center at UND will be demolished next year. Since the Hyslop houses an Olympic-sized pool along with other sports facilities, it’s going to have an impact on the programs in town that use it.

Now, proponents are hoping to see new facilities built. If it ever happens, it could possibly be two buildings – one for swimming and the other for other sports, such as soccer, lacrosse, pickleball and the like.


A feasibility study was conducted last year by the Grand Forks Park District and one thing is certain: it won’t be cheap. Estimates are ranging from around $100 million for an indoor sports facility and another $37 million for an aquatics center.

And, as always, the question is how to pay for it all. One idea is to continue a three-quarters-cent sales tax that funded construction of the Alerus Center. That tax, which began in 1996, will expire in 2029.

To us, an aquatics center is the most logical first choice. Grand Forks has a number of children involved in competitive swim teams, including the combined Central and Red River high school program, as well as the RRV Wahoos, a youth team sponsored by USA Swimming. There also is a need for swim lessons.

“I don’t think people are going to realize until we’re in that situation that there’s going to be no space,” said Bryan Walls, a local swim coach. “The wait for swim lessons will be astronomical.”

And this from Central-Red River boys coach Brent Newman: “When the Hyslop closes, the number of kids they put through their swimming lesson program, there’s no place in Grand Forks that’s going to be able to absorb that number of kids.”

So yes, we agree that as the Hyslop comes down, a new swim facility probably will be needed and, at least by early indications, should be the first choice going forward.

Whatever is decided for new sports centers in town, perhaps it would be best to extend the 0.75% sales tax, to continue to raise funds for something that will benefit the community.

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