Ryan Bakken, Published July 15 2009
Grand Forks Park Board gives nod to disc goal tournament, but reluctantly soGRAND FORKS, N.D. - It was far from a ringing endorsement, but the Grand Forks Park Board voted Tuesday to allow a controversial disc golf tournament at Lincoln Drive Park.
Commissioner Jim Bollman’s prelude to his motion for approval spoke to their reluctance. “I am very suspect of this whole thing and have serious reservations,” he said. “So, I’m doing this somewhat under duress. But if he gets everything in place, I guess we should allow this to go ahead.”
The board added several more conditions onto an already long laundry list of requirements for promoter Hugo “Achilles” Gomez.
The new conditions were a $500 damage deposit on top of the $600 required by the city, verification of event receipts and expenses because the Park District is to receive 10 percent of the profits, parking set aside for dog park users and the promoter to pay the $4,300 for portable toilet rentals.
Gomez didn’t blink at the other stipulations, except he briefly made a case for the Park District to pay for the portable toilets, as it does for the annual Springfest event in University Park. The City Council indicated Monday that the city would not charge Gomez for the $10,000 needed for police officers to work the event. But the Park District is charging for the toilets and for rent of a shelter and building.
“It’s a little unfair,” Gomez said.
Asked why Springfest’s sponsors receive the portable toilets free and Gomez didn’t, Commissioner Jay Panzer said, “We don’t want to endure any more expenses for these kinds of events. Once is probably enough. Plus, this is a different crowd. UND brings a lot to this town, so there’s some obligation to them.”
“Plus, this is Year 1,” he said. “We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.”
Commissioner Greg Ladouceur added that board members likely would be more willing to help future tournaments if this year’s is “positive.”
The commissioners’ underlying discomfort about the Aug. 14-16 tournament included its original name. It was called 4-2-0 Frolf. Frolf is another word for disc golf, a hybrid of the words Frisbee and golf. The number 420 is slang for marijuana or lighting up a joint, and disc golfers in the sport’s early days had a stereotype of being users.
Gomez claims the 4-2-0 is reference to the $4 entry fee and the two-person teams. He changed the local tournament’s name to Frolf-a-palooza, but said he will keep the 4-2-0 Frolf for the other tournaments he plans for the Upper Midwest.
“Now that I have the board’s go-ahead, more sponsors will show interest now,” Gomez said. “I’m confident this will work. Hopefully it will give the public something they can enjoy.”
The event also will feature live music, a beer garden, food and children’s games. Gomez calls it a family event, but Bollman wondered “why there is a beer garden at a family event.”
There’s no question that the disc golf course at Lincoln Drive Park is popular. It is typically packed on weekends and evenings. But local disc golf association members attending Tuesday’s meeting made it clear they weren’t affiliated.
After the decision, outside the meeting room, Gomez sought approval from the local players, just as he landed support — albeit reluctantly — from two groups of city leaders.
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