FARGO – Members of a Fargodome committee peered into the future Wednesday when they reviewed expansion concepts ranging from the basic to the extravagant, with price tags reflecting the various options and amenities.
Fargo architect Terry Stroh presented seven options to the Dome Authority Building and Finance Committee. The options offered varying degrees of square footage and cost, ranging from $87,000 to upgrade handicap-accessible seating to $21.5 million for a westside complex that would include suites for the stadium, an outdoor rooftop patio and banquet or convention/conference space.
The renovations would only marginally add capacity for concerts and North Dakota State football games, which routinely sell out. After looking at all realistic possibilities with Stroh, Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said at most about 1,200 seats could be added. Depending on configuration, the dome can currently seat up to 25,000.
“This adds another conversation piece for the authority,” Sobolik said. “I can tell you, there are events here that said they would like to have more space. There are events not coming here because we don’t have space.”
No action was taken on any of the concepts. Committee members appear to be waiting for action on a proposed convention center that could either be built downtown or connected to the dome.
“At some point, the City Commission has to make some decision on what to agree to,” said committee member John Q. Paulsen.
Dave Piepkorn, a city commissioner and dome committee member, said in his opinion “the City Commission can’t make this call; it’s got to be the voters of Fargo.”
Stroh’s drawings were conceptual in nature and not working documents, but visual ideas nonetheless.
- Handicap-accessible seating. Proposed for all four corners of the dome at $87,500 for each corner, it would double handicapped capacity and eliminate the possibility of not seeing over fans standing up. It would conform to American with Disabilities Act standards.
- Lobby addition on west side. Mainly meant for more bathrooms, it would cost $2.8 million and add 12,000 square feet.
- Lobby addition with canopy. At 24,000 square feet and an estimated cost of $4.4 million, it would add a roof over Albrecht Boulevard on the dome’s west side that could be shielded from wind with garage doors or something similar. Using radiant heat, it could be used for tailgating, boat shows or agriculture shows. “It’s somewhat climate-controlled additional exterior space,” Sobolik said. When not used, the street would be open to traffic.
- Multilevel westside addition. Same concept as the previous two, but the third and fourth levels would be used for club rooms, trade shows and suites, or sky boxes overlooking the arena at an estimated cost of $12.3 million. It would increase dome capacity by 500 to 600 people. “From a revenue standpoint, you’re taking higher donors and moving them up in this area with higher-end amenities,” Sobolik said.
- Multilevel westside addition with canopy. The canopy would increase the estimated cost to $13.9 million.
- Westside addition, higher-end version. At an estimated cost of $21.5 million, it would have 5,000 more square feet of banquet space than the current eastside addition. Escalators would be added because of the increased traffic. It includes an outdoor patio. “Now you’re talking about events that would be interesting from the standpoint of maybe weddings and stuff like that,” Stroh said. “It creates a monumental-looking addition.”
- Northeast corner addition. At an estimated cost of $3.5 million, it would add suites on the upper level and more bathrooms at the concourse level. It would increase dome capacity by about 300. “It’s amazing how much of the field you can see from there,” Stroh said. “When you’re talking football, it’s sometimes not so much watching the game as being at the game.”