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Addition not likely to yield gain, loss

The Fargodome would more or less break even on an addition that would host college basketball games and fill a gap in the local concert market, a consultant said Thursday.

The Fargodome would more or less break even on an addition that would host college basketball games and fill a gap in the local concert market, a consultant said Thursday.

Combined, the arena and existing Fargodome could take in about $3.8 million and spend about $3.7 million annually, about a $100,000 surplus, said John T. Kaatz, a partner with Twin Cities-based Conventions Sports & Leisure International.

The city-owned dome last year had a surplus of about $166,584, or 29 percent more than budgeted. In 2006, the dome showed a net income of about $82,400, about $60,000 below the dome's budgeted goal.

"What we're saying is that the impact of the arena is neither good nor bad," Kaatz told Dome Authority members when he presented a draft of a feasibility study for the proposed $30 million basketball and multipurpose arena.

Expenses at the 15-year-old building have never exceeded revenues.

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If the Dome Authority agrees to build an addition, Kaatz recommends that it consider an operating reserve in case it does have a money-losing year. A new arena adds more variables to financial projections, he said.

Dome Authority President Ryn Pitts said after Kaatz's presentation that she "saw some opportunity and some risk," and that the Dome Authority needs to address both.

Three dome committees will review the study next month and give recommendations to the Dome Authority in late April.

The Dome Authority hired CLS in October to study the proposed addition, which would be paid for jointly through the dome's surplus sales tax fund and NDSU.

Architects already came up with a concept for a $31.4 million, 6,000-seat facility that would share a lobby and ticket windows with the dome.

The Dome Authority asked CLS to include premium seating options for the arena in the study.

The finding: People are less interested in suites than in club seating, both courtside and on upper levels. Revenue from those sales could be $382,000 a year, Kaatz said.

For nonbasketball events, Kaatz said a venue of the proposed size could fit a gap between smaller concert venues, such as the 3,000-seat Civic Center and the Fargodome, where the concert configuration starts at 13,000 seats.

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Some event promoters CSL interviewed for the study said that might change the Fargo concert market. Others said it wouldn't, Kaatz said.

Dedicating flat floor space for trade shows, conventions, banquets and similar events should be considered a long-term development option, he said.

Including NDSU basketball games, the dome and arena could host events about 169 days per year.

Study projections show the addition would have about 78 of those events, including eight that would otherwise have been held at the Fargodome.

The dome, in turn, could pick up about six events to maintain its average of about 91 days with events annually.

The property would have enough parking for both facilities and a restaurant that has been proposed on dome land, Kaatz said.

Even if every dome lot fills - as it surely will when Bon Jovi plays next month - there are several thousand other parking spaces within four blocks of the dome, said General Manager Rob Sobolik.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556

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