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Fargo City Commission expected to discuss future of Civic Center on Tuesday

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FARGO – The future of the Fargo Civic Center downtown is a likely topic of discussion at next Tuesday’s City Commission meeting.

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A memo from City Administrator Pat Zavoral requested that the commission consider turning the Civic Center into a performance hall.

The fate of the Civic Center is uncertain because of plans to move the adjacent City Hall a block away to a new building proposed on Second Street North.

On a trip to Sioux Falls, S.D., and Lincoln, Neb., this week to see what those cities have done to spur growth, commissioners visited the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science in Sioux Falls.

City Commissioner Mike Williams said the Washington Pavilion could serve as an inspiration for changes at the Civic Center.

He said the pavilion attracts touring Broadway plays, comedy acts and orchestras, and could be a model for the Civic Center’s future.

“There’s a niche … that isn’t being filled now” in Fargo, Williams said.

“The Sioux Falls reuse of an old, sturdy high school provides similar opportunities for this facility,” Zavoral wrote in his memo, referring to the Washington Pavilion’s transformation.

The Civic Center hosts corporate and community events throughout the year, as well as concerts. It will host the 5th annual Fargo Beer Festival on Sep. 5 and rapper Machine Gun Kelly on Oct. 30.

Zavoral also asked the commission to consider the feasibility of creating new venues for conventions here, acknowledging a study the Fargo Dome Authority has already done on this issue.

The Dome Authority commissioned an analysis on the possibility of a new convention center with site options of downtown or adjacent to the Fargodome. The report, from HVS Conventions Sports and Entertainment Facilities Consulting, didn’t definitely give one site the upper hand, but listed pros and cons of each.

The firm’s report found that a convention center is economically feasible in Fargo.

Dome Authority members voted unanimously in late April to recommend to the City Commission that a new convention center be built at the dome and not downtown.

“They’ve done a need analysis” showing that the city could support more convention facilities, Williams said, but there are still questions about “what size, what use, and what site for a convention or conference center would provide the most overall benefit for the community.”

Williams said a feasibility study on the Civic Center would be the starting point to discuss its future.

“If it isn’t a performance hall, maybe there’s something else we can do,” he said. “The first step is just to see what the structure’s capacity is.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Adrian Glass-Moore at (701) 241-5599

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Adrian Glass-Moore
Readers are encouraged to reach Adrian Glass-Moore at (701) 241-5599 or aglassmoore@forumcomm.com with comments, criticisms and tips. He joined The Forum as its night reporter in 2014.
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