|Former names||Aurora Events Center (pre-construction)|
|Location||1200 S 42nd St.
Grand Forks, ND 58201-3733
|Owner||City of Grand Forks|
|Operator||City of Grand Forks|
|Capacity||Concerts (full-house set): 21,000
Concerts (half-house set): 11,000
|Field size||Overall square footage: 447,000
Ballroom square footage: 26,000
Arena floor dimensions:
415' north to south
240' east to west
|Broke ground||July 15, 1998|
|Opened||February 10, 2001|
|Construction cost||$80 million
($107 million in 2016 dollars)
Schoen & Associates
|Structural engineer||Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc.|
|Services engineer||Obermiller Nelson Engineering, Inc.|
|General contractor||Mortenson Construction|
|North Dakota Fighting Hawks football (NCAA)
Alerus Center is an indoor arena and convention center located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The facility is owned and operated by the city of Grand Forks and opened on February 10, 2001. The arena's major tenant is the University of North Dakota football team. The arena also plays host to many large concerts, sporting events, and trade shows. It can seat more than 21,000 people at one time. The convention center section of the facility includes a 26,000-square-foot (2,400 m2) ballroom and 12 meeting rooms. The convention center is used for conferences, seminars, banquets, parties, and smaller concerts. Directly adjacent to the Alerus Center is a large hotel and waterpark complex called the Canad Inns Destination Center.
Alerus Center is named after a local financial institution, Alerus Financial, which purchased the building's naming rights. Prior to opening, the facility had been referred to as the Aurora Events Center.
After attempts going back to 1984 to fund expansion of the downtown civic center or construction of a new convention center (1992), in 1995 a vote to increase the local sales tax to build a new events center (dubbed The Aurora Events Center, costing $43 to $49 million) passed with 60% approval. Cost overruns required another vote in 1996 on an events center to cost $57 million which passed with 51% approval.
The Flood of 1997 delayed the project and led to redesigns to make the facility less susceptible to future flooding. Compass Management was hired to manage facility and in 2000 Aurora was renamed Alerus Center after Alerus Financial bought naming rights for a period of 20 years. Alerus Center opened on February 10, 2001 with a final cost of $80 million. In 2006 construction started on Canad Inns hotel tower and water park, and was completed in 2007.
In 2007 the city ended its management contract with Compass Management but the same year rehired Compass Management, now renamed VenuWorks, with the provision they won't be paid if they lose taxpayer money. In 2009 Alerus Commission announced they lost $720,000 in the events fund due to Alerus operations. No accounting of that loss is made available to the public. VenuWorks notified the City of Grand Forks it intends to terminate its management contract with the events center effective December 31, 2011. The city will likely manage most of the facility with the option of bringing help to assist in specialty areas.
The all-time attendance record is held by Country music star George Strait’s “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour, which attracted an audience of 20,500 people in 2013. Cher's Living Proof: The Farewell Tour concert is the second-largest event ever held at the arena and, at that time, was the largest audience the entertainer had ever performed in front of.
Other non-music events have also been held at Alerus Center including WWE Smackdown and the 2008 North Dakota Democratic-NPL Convention featuring presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton speaking.
Grand Forks is unique because it is a relatively small market with two major event centers, Alerus Center and the Ralph Engelstad Arena, both of which often bid to host the same events. To a lesser extent, the Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks also sometimes competes for these same events as well. Regionally, the Fargodome in nearby Fargo, North Dakota and the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba are seen as competitors to Alerus Center.
Canad Inns Destination Center
Located directly north of Alerus Center sits the Canad Inns Destination Center, completed in 2007. This $50 million complex, also designed by JLG Architects, is anchored by a 201-room, 13-story hotel tower which, at 126 feet (38 m), is the tallest building in Grand Forks and the tallest building constructed in North Dakota since the mid-1980s. The Destination Center also includes the largest waterpark in the state, three restaurants, a "boutique" casino, and an arcade. This was the first facility in the United States for the Canadian hotel chain.
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