FARGO — A pair of Fargo Dome Authority committees recommended Wednesday, April 24, to reconstruct a second-floor bathroom into a breastfeeding and pumping station and family restroom.
Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik told the building and finance committees that he believed the project would be "very, very well received."
The committees also gave the green light for Sobolik to continue talks and include in his 2020 capital budget the purchase of a bomb-sniffing dog in partnership with the Fargo Police Department.
As for the breastfeeding station and family restroom, the venue has only a one-person temporary breastfeeding and pumping suite on the main concourse that was designed by the Mamava company and placed in the dome by a state breastfeeding organization.
If the suite is in use, Sobolik said mothers often have to use an office. He said the need is high for such rooms for all events at the dome, including conferences, football games and even concerts.
"I don't think there's an event here where it wouldn't be used," he said.
Committee members unanimously approved asking the full Fargo Dome Authority and the Fargo City Commission to give a final OK to the renovation and seek bids for the project, which would cost somewhere between $200,000 and $260,000 and be paid for from the Fargodome surplus account.
The committees seemed to favor the larger of two options, with three "mother's rooms" and also a cot and resting area that is becoming more common nationwide for older people who have caregivers and need a place for a break. The remodeled space would also include family bathrooms.
Sobolik said when remodeling of the concourses in the dome and the construction of a possible convention center move forward, more breastfeeding and pumping rooms as well as family restrooms would be included in those plans. But he said this mezzanine project would help for now and wouldn't interfere with any future remodeling.
The committees also unanimously favored the partnership between the Fargodome and police department to purchase a bomb-sniffing dog to share.
Sobolik said he would put the cost for the dog, training and equipment in the 2020 capital outlay budget.
Some promoters, especially for major events such as the World Wrestling Entertainment matches and big-name concerts, require the Fargodome be swept for bombs by a dog, he explained. However, the dog could be used at other events, as well, perhaps as many as 30 a year. Currently, Sobolik said they have to hire private dogs for such inspections.
The police department has four K9 dogs for narcotics, but Sobolik said he understands they can't be cross-trained for bomb sniffing.
Sobolik said the startup cost for the project could be about $70,000 to $80,000 and would be shared with police.
Considering current expenses for hiring dogs, Sobolik said the investment will pay for itself over time. The plan is for police to fund the maintenance of the dog in the future.
Building committee member Bruce Grubb, the Fargo city administrator, said the dog would be useful for the police department "all the time."
Another building committee member, Nancy Jordheim, also said the dog might be able to help if a situation arose at the schools.