FARGO — The Fargodome, the biggest entertainment venue across the far northern states from Minneapolis to Seattle, opened in December of 1992 after being built for about $49 million.

So what it's worth today?

General Manager Rob Sobolik and Finance Director Susan Thompson said it's difficult to say for sure. However, officials reported to the Fargodome Authority and committees recently that the building, property and grounds are insured for $181 million.

"I think, and the Authority believes, that's about right," Sobolik said about the value for insurance purposes. "You don't want to be underinsured or overinsured. We think it's a comfortable position."

In determining the value, Global Risk Consultants helped a local insurance agency determine that the replacement cost for the Fargodome would be $133.8 million, with the generator building at $1.3 million and the yard at $8.9 million for a total of $144 million.

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However, Sobolik and Thompson said that doesn't include what the costs would be for architectural and engineering or "soft” fees that could be as high as 30% of a project if it had to be rebuilt, thus the higher insurable rate.

"We want people to know we are taking good care of it, though," Thompson said. "It's a big asset to the community."

Sobolik agreed, noting improvements that have added to its worth. That includes $6.5 million for the lobby addition, $7.5 million for the new video boards and $3.7 million for the Astroturf. Thompson said other improvements include the eight suites that were added to the 10 built in 1992 and the paving of the dome's west side parking lots.

In addition, more major improvements lie ahead.

Sobolik, his staff and architects have been working on plans to widen the concourses, improve seating and add restrooms. A convention center is under consideration that could be connected to the Fargodome for major conventions.

The remodeling will likely be discussed with the Authority and Fargo City Commission in January, Sobolik said. Plans are advancing, but he said estimates for certain parts of the project are still needed.

When he meets with the governing bodies, he said they will discuss the design and financing options. Although the Fargodome's surplus funds of about $45 million could cover such a project, Sobolik said a comfortable reserve is needed, so financing for part of the project would be needed.

It seems the value of the Fargodome could climb even higher in future years. In the meantime, Fargo residents are paying about $145,000 annually for the insurance premium to make sure it could be rebuilt if catastrophe occurs.