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Fargo hockey arena taking on more debt

The Metro Sports Foundation is adding to the debt for the Urban Plains Center, this time seeking $435,800 to help pay bills tied to the U18 World Championship hockey tournament held during the height of this spring's flood.

The Metro Sports Foundation is adding to the debt for the Urban Plains Center, this time seeking $435,800 to help pay bills tied to the U18 World Championship hockey tournament held during the height of this spring's flood.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan will be issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration, MSF officials told the Fargo Park Board on Tuesday.

The board then voted 4-0 to let the MSF finish the loan process.

The loan will largely pay lodging, food and transportation bills tied to the U18 tournament, said MSF Vice President Al Hintz and board member Bruce Furness.

Even though USA Hockey approved continuing the event in Fargo, flood worries hurt attendance early on, though numbers did improve as the U.S. squad moved toward the gold medal game, they said.

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"People didn't come from Canada. People didn't come from other parts of the state" and region, Furness said. At the same time, local fans were sandbagging to protect their homes or the city, he said.

"All of this was flood-related," Furness said.

While the MSF owns the arena, the Park District acts as the arena landlord so the facility can be exempt from taxes. As part of that arrangement, the Park Board must approve any new debt for the arena.

The 12-year SBA loan carries a 4 percent interest rate, Hintz said.

Ron Sorvaag, in his final day as Park Board president, said it would be difficult for the board to say no to any loan as long as banks or the SBA approve. He reiterated that no public money is at stake with the arena.

On June 9, the Park Board voted to allow the MSF to obtain a $1.36 million loan from local banks to finish work on the $25 million arena.

MSF President Todd Berning said then that the loan pushed the arena's debt to about $20 million.

Since the start of the year, the Park Board also let the MSF add to the arena's special assessments to pay for parking lots, and approved the use of Park District facilities, equipment and volunteers for the U18 tourney.

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Rick Jenkins, an SBA spokesman based in Sacramento, Calif., said the loan was among the programs made available by a presidential disaster declaration issued April 10.

Jenkins said businesses can borrow up to $2 million in the economic injury program.

The Herald and the Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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