GRAND FORKS, ND – “At this point in time, I don’t think anything is off the table,” said Curt Kreun, Grand Forks City Council member and Alerus Center Commission board member said yesterday on the Scott Hennen Show, discussing the Council’s decision to discontinue its Alerus Center management contract with Venueworks and how the Council plans to go forward.
Kreun said that the Council will be looking at several different types of management structures across the country in an attempt to make the Alerus Center profitable for the City of Grand Forks.
“In the beginning, when the Alerus Center first opened, it was the arena side that was carrying the convention side,” Kreun noted, but that situation reversed once the hotel was added and the convention center became better known.
“It is time to take a good look and make sure that our governance and management structure is going to meet the needs and the challenges that we have right now,” said Kreun. “The entertainment area has changed dramatically, so we have to change too.”
Kreun said that he was optimistic that as UND enters Division I and the Big Sky conference, that area attendance will begin to pick up and increase over the next several years. UND is the arena’s biggest customer.
Dwight Thompson, the Alerus Center Commission Chairman, also weighed in on the show.
“We had some discussions with Venueworks, and Venueworks decided to free up the commission to do the planning and start with a clean slate to start with a new organizational process going forward with the Alerus Center,” Thompson explained how the decisions came about.
The money that Venueworks owes the city under its previous contract is still due and payable to the city, but under the current contract, the management company is not responsible for now for what is or is not booked.
Thompson said he believes that the Alerus Center’s goal “is to do community development and to do the things that Grand Forks wants us to do,” not necessarily to make a profit.
“We bring thousands and thousands of visitors into town,” Thompson shared, “and the convention center business is up year after year. It is booking a lot of things out into the future this year and next year.”
Pressed by guest host Eugene Graner on expectations that the Alerus Center may some day turn a profit, rather than continue to be subsidized, Thompson said that goal of the Center was simply to break even on annual operations. “It is not our goal to be real profitable. It is to operate the Center here that the citizens voted on it, and the Commission has every intent to do that.”