GRAND FORKS, ND – How much money does the Alerus actually lose each year? In terms of strictly operating costs – not including depreciation – the Alerus Center has lost hundreds of thousands each year it has been in existence, despite some claims that it has had years where it made a profit. If depreciation is included, as it is in standard accounting, then the numbers climb into the millions.
Over the past ten years, the center has averaged an annual $519,493 in net operating losses, according to year end statements obtained from the city’s financial director. Its best year was in 2002, when it lost only $135,299; its worst year was 2008, when it lost $926,451.
Whether or not the Center should be turning a profit is still a matter of great debate among city residents. As the City Council and Alerus Commission members consider different options for a new management structure and decide how to best proceed, one thing several members – including City Council President Hal Gersham as well as Alerus Commission Chair Dwight Thompson and Councilman Curt Kreun – do agree upon is that they would like to see the Alerus start to break even on its operating costs each year.
Early in August, before the decision was made to discontinue the contract with Venuworks, City Councilman Terry Bjerke told council members that if the arena were a private venture, it would have had a management change long ago. “All we just keep doing is funneling more money, and like at the federal level, that just doesn’t work,” Bjerke said in a later interview.
Venuworks also owes the city $129,772 for past contractual obligations.