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Big events, big results: Fargodome records better than expected attendance, income in 2017

The Fargodome in April 2012. Forum News Service1 / 2
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw perform Aug. 24, 2017, at the Fargodome during their Soul 2 Soul Tour. Forum News Service2 / 2

FARGO — A strong lineup of concerts, North Dakota State University football's national championship playoff run and a solid core of annual events pushed Fargodome attendance to nearly 540,000 people last year, boosting net income more than $90,000 above original projections, General Manager Rob Sobolik said Friday, Jan. 26.

"It's definitely one of the higher years" for attendance and net income, he said.

The attendance of 539,428 was more than 35,000 higher than the 504,200 people in 2017's initial budget projections, Sobolik said.

The result pushed the venue's net income to $619,902, he said, significantly higher than the $529,743 in budget projections. The figures were shared with the dome's finance committee Wednesday.

The dome's take was pumped up by several big concert draws in 2017, including marquee names in Bruno Mars, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, classic rockers Journey and country singers Justin Moore and Lee Brice.

"We have a very strong base of core annual events, obviously with NDSU football (three packed playoff games), with our great consumer shows, such as the Red River Valley Boat Show, the Sportsman's Show, the Home and Garden Show, the Ag Show, the Shrine Circus, the state high school events. So, really, a lot depends on the type of the touring concerts out there, or the ... success of the Gate City Bank (Theatre) shows, Monster Jam, rodeo, different things such as that," Sobolik said.

The Fargodome has a good reputation with the artists' management teams and concert promoters and dome staffers have good contacts in the industry, helping the facility land big acts, he said.

Tickets sell well "and obviously, they're treated well when they come to Fargo," Sobolik said.

Big concert events in the coming year include rockers Avenged Sevenfold and Breaking Benjamin in February, comedian Jim Gaffigan's "Fixer Upper" tour in April, a Journey and Def Leppard concert in July, and pop singer Ed Sheeran's show in October.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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