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Helmut Schmidt, Published January 13 2009

Fargo Park Board to look at UP Center special assessment tonight; tournament group won't seek tax-exempt status

The Fargo Park Board will be asked tonight to give more help to the Urban Plains Center, but a group in charge of an international youth hockey tournament has decided to drop a request that would have used the Park District’s tax-exempt status to save the group nearly $40,000.

At the 5:30 meeting, representatives of the Metro Sports Foundation will ask the board to OK adding about $100,000 to a previously approved special assessment request to build a parking lot for the arena last fall. The assessment would now total about $225,000, Urban Plains and Park District officials said.

The Park Board, which acts as the UP Center landlord so the center can get tax-exempt status, must approve any debt that the Metro Sports Foundation, the arena’s managers, takes on to run the facility.

The board will also be asked to lend the use of facilities, equipment, and volunteers to support an under-18 hockey tournament at the UP Center and Moorhead Sports Center in April.

An organizer of the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Under 18 Championship said the group has dropped a request that the Park District pay the food and hotel room bills to save the tournament $38,000 in taxes.

Lance Johnson, general manager of the UP Center, said the U18 group decided to drop the request after some internal discussion. The group decided to seek other ways to save money and make money for the tournament, he said.

“At the end of the day, it didn’t make sense,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the U18 group was told this morning that the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau had authorized a $10,000 event fund for the tournament.

Johnson said the group is also in discussions with the North Dakota Department of Tourism and other groups to seek help funding or promoting the tournament.

The U18 group is still seeking to use the Southwest Youth Arena, an ice-refinishing machine and puck freezers for the tournament, and Courts Plus as a workout facility for the teams. The tournament will be held April 9-19.

The Park Board meets in the boardroom of the district offices at 701 Main Ave. N.