GRAND FORKS, ND – Grand Forks’ finance committee met last night and is requesting a $250,000 advance to the Alerus Center should the Center need to draw on the funds to pay its bills.
In an interview this afternoon on the Scott Hennen show, Grand Forks City Council member and ND State Representative Eliot Glassheim admitted that the move “is a risk,” loaning more money to the entity which has not yet been able to repay past loans, but he contends that the risk is outweighed by other benefits the center brings to the city.
“I think those who never wanted it in the first place don’t think about what the Alerus Center has meant to the city,” said Glassheim. “I think over the last eight or nine years they have averaged about $135,000 in losses. But the amount of people they bring in, the sales tax revenue they bring in, their employees buying houses, the money spent by people who stay there, a $50 million hotel that was built only because of it,” all of those things – according to Glassheim – more than offset the direct costs to the city.
“The city is on the hook for $100-200,000 each year,” said Glassheim. “The people of Grand Forks voted for it a least twice, and there it is. It exists. But the people voted for it. They had a choice to tax themselves or not, and they voted to tax themselves in order to get this thing.”
Although the Arena part is losing money, the Convention Center is making money Glassheim noted, reminding listeners that there were at least some profitable aspects of the project.