Fargodome could see its first operating loss this year

Two-hundred beds have been set up in the Fargodome for use as a field hospital in case coronavirus patients overwhelm medical centers in the metro area. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — With the possibility of major events in the near future off the table, the Fargodome could see its first operating loss in 2020.

General Manager Rob Sobolik told the Fargo Dome Authority Tuesday, April 28, they could open the locked doors for some non-event activities, but events have been canceled or postponed through at least June, including the Elton John concert that was scheduled for June 13.

The dome has been without any activity since mid-March, although in early April the state of North Dakota filled the floor of the events center with cots as a backup in case of hospital capacity problems amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the shutdown, Sobolik said, the rodeo and circus events have been canceled. However, the Cher and MercyMe concerts have only been postponed, which could help finances later this year. He said event scheduling is up to promoters.

The pandemic and loss of events for several months could cause the Fargodome's first operating loss in its 28 years, he said.


What the amount will be, he told the authority, is up in the air with "a lot of unknowns."

He said the prediction covers a "big range," but it may be as high as $500,000.

The dome has a "back stop" though, as its reserves of about $45 million can be used to cover operating losses under the city's home rule charter.

Sobolik said they have been in contact with the North Dakota Investment Board, which has the surplus invested, and that losses today look much better than they did a few weeks ago when the reserves were down as much as 9% to 10%. As of Tuesday afternoon, they were at about a 3% to 4% loss.

"It'll be up and down for many months," Sobolik said, adding they would continue to monitor it.

Through March, the Fargodome was still making money with a net income of $228,275, but that was about $80,000 below what was budgeted.

Management, he said, is trying to control what expenses they can this month and down the road such as utilities, supplies and delaying the hiring of planned employees.

In the meantime, staff is working on fixing seating, maintenance on the heating and cooling systems, cleaning and paperwork.


Authority board member Nancy Jordheim said she has heard nothing but "admiration and respect" for the Fargodome staff for their "calmness" and thoughtful control during the pandemic.

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The Fargodome could serve as a field hospital if a surge in coronavirus patients overruns local hospitals. David Samson / The Forum

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