FARGO — It'll be "all hands on deck" in the next few months as the Fargo Park District aims to meet its goal of private funding to allow construction of the proposed indoor Fargo Sports Complex to proceed.
That was the approach the Park Board, Park District Foundation and staff agreed upon on Wednesday, Oct. 27, when they met to discuss how to find the remaining about $17 million for the $80.2 million project on 100 acres in southwest Fargo.
It was also agreed to kick off a more public campaign to find the dollars that will make the effort a 50-50 private/public project. The park board has approved a property tax hike along with district reserve funds of $38.5 million for the facility.
So far, a "silent fundraising campaign" has raised $23.5 million mostly through nine "high-level" partners, who have asked to remain anonymous so far.
Thus, on a positive note, it was stated that they are at about 80% of the needed funds for the project to begin. The Park Board, though, has said it won't give the final go ahead to seek bids until the 50/50 split is realized.
Brian Arett, who spends some of his time as staff leader for the foundation board, said they just received another $1 million verbal commitment from a financial institution on Wednesday as they continue the push working with local companies and organizations.
However, he said the new plan calls for expanding the fund raising to city residents and smaller donors by launching the public phase next month.
It's hoped the kickoff to the public effort can be done with the announcement of all of the major donors at the same time in a public event.
The plan lists some of public campaign options as boosting a website presence and perhaps direct mailing to residents.
"Maybe it'll be someone donating $500 for a brick in the building," Arett said, "or another donor who wants to have their name on one of the basketball courts."
Craig Bjur, who is the project manager for the foundation board, said in the "all hands on board" effort that the plan is to move a part-time employee of the board to full time and to have the park district's marketing and communications team focus more effort on the fundraising.
It also may involve hiring, as it was noted the fundraising won't stop if the goal is met as the foundation wants to continue its mission of aiming to improve recreational opportunities for city children and residents and eventually also adding to the sports complex in future years.
Bjur also plans to concentrate all of his time to the campaign and drop some of his duties he still has as a former recreation specialist for the district.
Park Board member Dawn Morgan said she sees it as creating a "greater functioning machine" for the fundraising campaign.
Other Park Board members, who also have a role in the new plan by becoming more vocal ambassadors in the effort, expressed support for trying to get the campaign done as soon as possible.
Board Chairman Vicki Dawson simply said, "let's go" in describing the effort.
"We need to hit the fast-as-we-can-go button," Arett said. "The longer we wait the more it's going to cost. And the way construction costs are going up we need to do the best we can."
Bjur said in the contacts he has had with major donors and contacts so far they all have expressed strong support for the project He said universally their response is "this is going to be great."
"I know we are going to get there and have our groundbreaking by the spring," Bjur said.
The complex plan includes a full-sized indoor soccer field, four to seven basketball courts, an indoor walking track, community rooms and a future home for the park district offices. Sanford Power is also planning to move its training facility to the complex.
The board estimates the facility will have 13,000 local kids use it annually and attract 600,000 visitors each year to about 45 local and regional sporting tournaments and community events.