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Convention center study moves forward

A 2017 rendering by Icon Architectural Group of what a convention center near Main Avenue and the Red River Valley Fairgrounds could look like in West Fargo. Special to the Pioneer

The city, Red River Valley Fairgrounds and Fargo Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau will move forward with a study to determine if a convention center in West Fargo would be possible and how much it might cost.

The West Fargo City Commission approved awarding the feasibility study project to Stone Planning based in Chicago for $65,570. The city, Red River Valley Fair and CVB will each pay $21,857.

In December, the City Commission approved paying up to $90,000 total for the study.

"The good news is it came in much cheaper than we thought," Commissioner Mark Simmons said.

The study will examine what construction might cost, if it is needed in this area and how it could be paid for.

Economic Development Director Matt Marshall said after a request for proposals the three groups received five bids.

They firm expects the study to take about 11 weeks, which can begin soon after it was approved Monday, March 18.

In February 2017, the city and Red River Valley Fair officials announced they were working on a proposal to build a $20 million, 87,087-square-foot convention center that could hold large-scale trade shows or multiple 500-person events in a facility on the western edge of the fairgrounds just south of Main Avenue.

The first step in building a center would have to be an annexation arrangement between the city and RRVF and considering how to pay for the project. The RRVF owns about 350 acres on the west side of West Fargo and uses about a third of that with existing buildings and parking areas. The land is not part of the city of West Fargo but is considered rural property in Cass County.

West Fargo city commissioners then tabled the idea in June 2018 before voting to move forward with a feasibility study in December.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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