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Wendy Reuer, Published February 26 2013

Dome to seek bids for expansion study

FARGO - Fargodome leaders inched toward plans for a major expansion Tuesday.

The Fargodome Authority gave dome staff the green light to advertise for consultants willing to study the cost of an expansion along with financing options, potential income and an expansion’s economic impact.

Fargodome leaders have eyed concept designs of a roughly 50,000-square-foot, two-level event center addition on the south side of the dome. Preliminary conceptual designs of the addition done by architect Terry Stroh show a space that would allow for more flexible exhibit and meeting space.

Board President Darrell Vanyo has said he believes the authority would be willing to pay about $17 million for the expansion, about half of the Fargodome’s general reserve funds of $34.5 million.

“It could be done with a reallocation of existing budget capital dollars,” Fargodome Manager Rob Sobolik said.

The cost of the feasibility study has not yet been determined, Sobolik said Tuesday. Consultants interested in the doing the study will bid for the project.

Sobolik told the board a consultant would likely not be hired until late spring or early summer.

“I really don’t think a study’s (results) will be coming back until October-ish,” Sobolik said.

Once the Fargodome Authority has agreed on a cost estimate and study proposal, the Fargo City Commission will need to sign off on moving forward with the study. The dome is owned by the city of Fargo.

The Fargodome has grown its reserve funds from annual operating surpluses and investment income. The reserve contains proceeds from the half-cent city sales tax used to pay the $48 million cost of the original building.

The sales tax expired at the end of 2008, and the dome’s bond debt was paid in full in 2009.

The last major addition to the Fargodome was a new $6.8 million lobby that opened in 2000.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530