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DSU leaves ‘Badlands Events Center’ LLC

Dickinson State University has left the board of governors for a planned Stark County fairgrounds and events center.

A revised operating agreement removes DSU, “who essentially resigned from that position,” from the list of governors of the soon-to-be-incorporated Badlands Events Center, LLC, lawyer Paul Ebeltoft told the remaining group at an update meeting Monday at Hawks Point.

Representatives from the Dickinson Roughrider Commission, the DSU Foundation, Stark County and the county’s fair and park boards make up the group now.

DSU spokeswoman Marie Moe said while she couldn’t speak to the original intent of DSU being on board, she said it has now resigned to take a wait-and-see approach.

“If the outdoor rodeo arena is part of the event center, we would be interested in discussing the use for our rodeo team,” she said, adding costs must be “reasonable and workable” for the team’s budget.

“We, at this point, just are not interested in being involved” in the management of the center, she said.

Moe said the decision was made by the university as a whole.

The park board recently purchased a $1.7 million, 87-acre plot of land a couple miles south of town on Highway 22 for the planned “Badlands Events Center.” Organizers envision an outdoor arena and indoor facility, which would allow Dickinson to host events year-round, DSU Foundation CEO Kevin Thompson told The Press previously.
Also at the meeting Monday, Fair Board Chair Lee Ann Karsky brought up concerns over transparency with the public-private partnership. Thompson has taken a lead role in the planning.

Ebeltoft said there’s “a great deal of advantage” to incorporating as a limited liability corporation to streamline the process, “as opposed to every decision being round-robined” among the groups represented.

And Park Board Chair Arnie Binek pointed out the money came from county land sales and can’t go toward purposes besides a fairgrounds.

“It’s public money, there’s no question about that, but … (it) can’t go to anything else,” he said.

Karsky maintained her main concern was being able to show the public that the group is being frugal.

The group is awaiting its official certification as a LLC from the North Dakota Secretary of State. Once it has that, it can select managers -- which could include hiring an outside individual with experience running this type of facility -- select a depository bank and set a fiscal year, Ebeltoft said. It can also then enter into lease and employee agreements.

For now, though, it’s a waiting game.

“We’re stuck doing nothing,”  Binek said.

The group will meet again once the LLC is incorporated.