FARGO — The Fargodome is in a holding pattern on a hoped-for remodeling project that would involve expanded concourses, bathrooms, seating and entrances.
General Manager Rob Sobolik said at a Fargo Dome Authority meeting on Tuesday, June 25, that his staff is working with a financial adviser hired by the city on possible financing options for the project that could reach up to $50 million.
Authority members have been talking about what they would like to see in the remodeled Fargodome, which may be required to shut down for a few months, and have had architects working on possible plans. The expanded and refurbished concourses and seating would be the focal point of the project to relieve congestion in the hallways during events.
If the project is approved, Sobolik said they could possibly use a big chunk of the Fargodome's $43 million surplus fund to help finance the project. He said they could possibly use $25 million or more.
Sobolik said the financial advisers will be suggesting what a good balance to keep in the surplus fund would be in making a final determination.
The Fargo Dome Authority also discussed attaching a convention center to the city-run building's northeast side and having the Fargodome organization operate the proposed Performing Arts Center that would be constructed on the site of the Fargo Civic Center downtown.
However, Sobolik said, those other major projects may require a vote of the people or some type of other tax increase to provide financing and to also pay for the remainder of the Fargodome's improvements.
Private funding is a possibility to pay for a large part of a new Performing Arts Center.
Sobolik said he did not know of a timetable for further discussions on financing options.
In the meantime, he reported to the authority board that the landscaping project outside the dome is continuing with new grass seeding, tree work and other projects.
Also, finance committee chairman Blake Nelson reported that a low bid of $415,000 has been obtained for the second floor family restroom and breastfeeding station. Currently, 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 at an earlier meeting, 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.
There will be three breastfeeding rooms and three family restrooms when construction is complete. The project must be approved by the City Commission.
Also at the meeting Tuesday, the capital and operating budgets were approved without the remodeling, pending a final OK from the City Commission.
The capital budget includes about $788,500 in repairs, energy efficiency projects, security enhancements, equipment purchases and maintenance needs for the building constructed in 1994, in addition to a third payment of $924,000 out of 10 bond payments for the new video screens and system that were installed in 2016. In total, the capital budget for 2020 is $1.71 million.
The operating budget for 2020 calls for about $4.5 million in revenue from events and other sources, with expenses of $4.3 million. It's projected there will be a surplus of $280,404, not counting if the North Dakota State University Bison have playoff games in the facility, which adds to the profit. The Fargodome is expecting a budget surplus of about $461,100 this year after a surplus of $472,997 in 2018.