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WF School Board picks West Fargo Events to run hockey arena

The West Fargo School Board voted to approve a roughly $227,000 two-year contract with West Fargo Events to provide management of the West Fargo Sports Arena for the next two years at the board's meeting on Monday, July 10.

West Fargo Events' proposal was the cheapest among the three formal proposals by other entities in the metro, including the Fargo Park District and Scheels Arena.

The management of West Fargo Events was estimated to cost about $28,000 from Aug. 1 to June 30, 2018, and $24,000 from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, with a cost of $87,672 for on-site staff annually. School board business manager Mark Lemer, who handled most of the discussion during the meeting, said those numbers could be inflated.

"Based on the overall responses and the interviews and follow-up questions, the consensus of the (committee) members is this was the best fit for this," Lemer said. "This really is a high level of management expertise."

The school district received three formal responses for the overall management of the West Fargo Sports Arena, which will be the home of the new West Fargo Sheyenne boys hockey program and other school sports teams.

At a special meeting in June, the West Fargo Park District, which owns and operates the Veterans Memorial Arena, where the West Fargo Packers play, decided to decline giving the school district a proposal. At the meeting, Park Board members cited "not enough" time was given to create a proposal.

A committee, including school district superintendent David Flowers and other school board members, interviewed those firms on June 26. That team concluded that each selection had perks, but ultimately recommended West Fargo Events to manage the hockey rinks. The board had proposed motions already written out before the meeting to accept that recommendation.

The Fargo Park District proposed a $160,500 fee from Aug. 1 to June 30, 2018, and a $175,000 fee from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019 with other costs included. Scheels Arena proposed a $77,000 fee from Aug. 1 to June 30, 2017, and an $84,000 fee from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, with other costs coming from a 5 percent net income and estimated $85,000 for on-site staff annually.

The school board wanted to use external management rather than any sort of "in-house service," which is uncharted territory for the board.

"One of the things that impressed me was during the interview West Fargo Events brought their whole team," Flowers said. "I thought that was a big plus. They brought extensive experience."

Lemer said the details of the contract would continue to be figured out and that advertising, concessions and marketing weren't yet mulled over.

West Fargo Events, a relatively new company that had two members at the meeting, will assume responsibility over budget development and managing ongoing expenses. The school board still has to figure out dedication of staff including custodial work.

"It's in the district's and West Fargo Events' interests to maximize the utilization for this facility," Flowers said. "They were passionate about West Fargo."

Gravley-Stack named board president

Also at the meeting on Monday, Kara Gravley-Stack was nominated and approved as the West Fargo School Board president. Gravley-Stack replaces Patti Stedman, who declined nomination for the post during the meeting, after three years as the board's president. Gravley-Stack was previously the vice president of the school board. School board member Shauna Vistad was nominated and named the next board's next vice president.

Colton Pool

Pool is a reporter for The West Fargo Pioneer covering city sports and community news. He was the sports editor for The Dickinson Press covering Dickinson State athletics, high school athletics and Southwest Speedway. He graduated from North Dakota State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. You can reach him by phone at 701-451-5715 or tweet him @CPoolReporter. 

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