FARGO-Scheels Arena president Jon Kram says some will call the 35,000 square-foot addition to Scheels Arena "eight years in the making."
When Ace Brandt put his shovel to the ground of his land at 51st Street and 32nd Avenue in south Fargo on June 27, 2007, he said "It's really for the youth." The original $34 million plan called for what is now Scheels Arena for the United State Hockey League's Fargo Force and four additional sheets of ice for youth hockey.
It may not be four sheets of ice, but there is now an additional sheet of ice off of Scheels Arena.
Kram said Friday, May 13, the one sheet of ice on the new Farmers Union Insurance Center will most likely wrap up the Scheels Arena plan.
"We're calling this the final piece, unless another donor comes in. Then it could change," Kram said.
The Farmers Union Insurance Center will be officially open June 2, although it's already been reserved for things like ice rentals, weddings and graduation parties. The addition can serve as a stand-alone, with its own entrance, sheet of ice, four locker rooms, training room, a 3,000 square-foot conference center, concession and bathrooms. There's also an open area for onlookers to see the Zamboni in action, which is meant mostly for kids.
"It's going to be mainly for youth hockey and high school hockey," Kram said. "Most of the high school games will be hosted over here. Ice will be available all this summer and year-round is the plan."
The new addition gives Scheels Arena some freedom to look into other events to host and the Force a place to practice when the main sheet is being used.
"A good example is during the North Dakota High School hockey tournament, when they're being over here the Force will be able to practice. Same for when the West Regional comes they'll still be able to practice in this rink," Kram said. "Even if we host regional basketball again, the hockey team doesn't have to leave."
The center will seat 600 with 498 reserved seats. It gives Scheels Arena flexibility.
"The big perk is we have a full event, but we can still run an ice events at the same time, which we have not been able to do in the past," Kram said. "The Force will practice over here if we have an event. If not, we'll fill both with ice events. It gives us the flexibility to chase other events, more concerts, trade shows and conventions."