Conference center could take Fargodome ‘to the next level,’ dome general manager says
FARGO — The Fargodome Authority is considering a potential plan for a Fargodome expansion that contemplates a possible 45,000-square-foot conference center that would be attached to the dome on the south side.
Other possible changes include adding more accessible seating for those who are disabled, new club and suite seating, new concessions areas, and a bathroom and other changes to the press box.
The Fargodome's General Manager Rob Sobolik says the addition of the conference center as well as modernizing the Fargodome would help in Fargo's attractiveness for businesses and tourists to visit.
“This is to jump into that next level," Sobolik said.
"Not only can one event that’s maybe bursting at the seams grow ... but larger business can be brought in to be the economic driver of staying in hotels, and shopping and eating out different places,” Sobolik added.
While the Fargodome already has spaces for meetings and conferences, there currently is not a space in Fargo that could fit as many people as the proposed conference center.
Charley Johnson, president of the Fargo Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said he is very open to the idea of the conference center being added to the Fargodome and says he prefers that idea over building a completely new standalone structure for events.
"I’ve been pushing for this for five or six years. I welcome this as a concept and I think it’s the most affordable way to get it done," Johnson said.
"You don’t have to have a standalone center, you can add it to (the) Fargodome, which already has meeting areas," Johnson added.
"If you want meeting space, this is the affordable way to do it. The devil will be in how," Johnson said of the proposal.
Since the plans are still in a very early stage, there is no cost estimate yet.
For renovations to the Fargodome itself, there may be enough of a surplus to cover the costs, but funding for the conference center is something that's still being considered, according to Sobolik.
"Whether that's working towards increasing the hotel/motel tax, that's what a lot of cities do to pay for these types of facilities," he said, adding that a food and beverage tax may be another possibility.
Early renderings of a potential project include a possible hotel, but a hotel, if built, would be a project for a private company and not part of Fargodome plans involving a possible conference center, Sobolik said.