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Fargo Park officials considered bringing 'American Ninja Warrior' room to Courts Plus

FARGO-Instead of watching the action-packed competition series "American Ninja Warrior" from your couch, what if you could experience the challenging obstacle course here in real life?There were conversations about this concept at the Fargo Park ...

Fargo parks officials are considering adding a "ninja warrior" room to one of the Park District's facilities. Special to The Forum
Fargo parks officials are considering adding a "ninja warrior" room to one of the Park District's facilities. Special to The Forum
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FARGO-Instead of watching the action-packed competition series "American Ninja Warrior" from your couch, what if you could experience the challenging obstacle course here in real life?

There were conversations about this concept at the Fargo Park District meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10 where commissioners expressed concerns and interest in bringing a ninja warrior room to one of its facilities, Courts Plus, 3491 S. University Drive. This follows a Courts Plus committee meeting Jan. 4 when the business model and concept were discussed at length.

Joel Vettel, executive director of Fargo Park District, said it is a "unique project" and there aren't a lot of examples out there. Park District officials started looking at the concept in October touring and talking with owners of similar facilities in the Twin Cities, but there isn't anything like this in the region, which makes it attractive for Fargo.

"It adds a tremendous amount of value" to Courts Plus and the Park District overall, Vettel said.

The room would take over two of the five existing racquetball courts at Courts Plus equaling about 1,600 square feet. Vettel said the racquetball courts are not sustainable and underutilized and the district is looking at ways of repurposing the space.

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It's anticipated to cost around $282,000 initially to create the room full of 20 to 30 pieces of equipment and obstacles simulating the popular tv show that tests competitors strength, balance and agility. After three years, the capital investment would be paid off, according to business models.

The ninja warrior room would be an additional cost for members and nonmembers with the idea being that the users of the space would be paying for the facility rather than membership.

Kevin Boe, Courts Plus manager, said the target audience would be 6- to 16-year-olds using the space for birthday parties.

Courts Plus added an indoor playground in 2013 that's mainly used for birthdays and Park District Commissioner Joe Deutsch said that addition turned the facility into a more community-orientated place and this warrior room would be the next level.

Deutsch said he understands the concern of whether the room would "lose its luster" as it's a trend now. Commissioner Rusty Papachek echoed this by saying "every concept is going to have a honeymoon phase."

Although the majority of traffic to the new facility would be from nonmembers attending birthday parties, Commissioner Matt Magness said he wanted more feedback from members to get their perspective on this potential addition.

After Tuesday's meeting, Vettel and Boe will work with staff to get more specifics on the project and community input to present at a facilities committee meeting Feb. 22. From that point, if the commissioners approve of moving forward with the project, bids could go out in March or April so the facility is ready by the fall.

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