Civic Center would have a new look

2012-07-26T16:33:00Z 2013-03-13T12:59:41Z Civic Center would have a new lookBy LEANN ECKROTH | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

To increase the city’s convention business, Bismarck voters may decide in November if they want to pay up to $60 million to expand and upgrade the Bismarck Civic Center.

Early plans would add 30,000 square feet to the convention center lobby. The city is keeping Ubl Design Group as the architect of a future project if voters accept it. The consultant provided a rendering of its plans last month to the commission.

City attorney Charlie Whitman is drafting the ballot language for possible commission approval on Aug. 14.

This week, city staff was also asked to seek offers from hotels interested in locating near the Civic Center.

“I’m drafting the ballot format,” Whitman said Thursday. “The commission will decide how and what the tax will be (on the ballot).” He said the motel and lodging tax appears the favored means of paying for the upgrades, but that still has to be decided.

Businessman Bill Shalhoob, who has pushed for the project, favors using a new visitors’ tax — 2 percent on rooms, 1 percent on food and 1 percent on liquor.

The early rendering done by Ubl Design Group featured improvements that:

-- Expand the convention center lobby to include a ballroom measuring at least 30,000 square feet.

-- Move the prominent entrance to the Fifth Street side.

-- Renovate meeting rooms, locker rooms and performer spaces.

-- Add a food court to the north.

-- Add a full-service, in-house kitchen.

-- Upgrade paint, carpet, ceilings and restrooms for the exhibit hall.

Those items could be adjusted.

The project is strongly favored by the Bismarck Mandan Chamber of Commerce, the Downtowners Association and the Convention and Visitors Bureau..

“As we look at Bismarck-Mandan becoming an epicenter of energy development in North Dakota, the expansion of the Civic Center enables it to maintain the events we have in the community and attract new events,” said Chamber President Kelvin Hullet. “It is a key component in development of the community.”

Hullet said the Chamber is studying the financial impact of expanding the Civic Center. He said the Chamber is now meeting with stakeholders, users and possible users of the Civic Center to determine if the plans meet their needs.

“We’ll roll it out to the public in the next three or four weeks,” he said. In the public hearing process, “there will be a high level of transparency,” Hullet said.

It’s too early to say what a viable offer for a hotel near the Civic Center will do to the project, Hullet said.

Kate Herzog, assistant director of the Downtowners Group, said expansion of the Civic Center is the most cost-effective thing for the city to do.

“It’s a rare thing to have a convention center, a regional mall and downtown all in walking distance,” she said. She calls it a big economic impact for the downtown and community.

“(People) can eat, drink and shop. It promotes a lot of sales tax. It’s a great economic generator for downtown and the community,” she said.

“It’s a refinement and an upgrade of community services,” said Russ Staiger, president and CEO of the the Bismarck Mandan Development Association, who said it is a city-driven project. “It’s an enhancement that will lead to better events at the Civic Center.”

Reach reporter LeAnn Eckroth at 250-8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarcktribune.com.

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(31) Comments

  1. NoFilter
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    NoFilter - July 31, 2012 10:28 am
    Ted Mosby (Love the reference by the way).
    No one runs against said politicians because most people with similar ideas/criticism found here do not have the money, or background to go into politics. I myself would love to see some new faces in our political system. But I myself have not the money, background, or in my case the age to run against any of our elected officials. If our system of elections focused more on debates and actual ideas, instead of who can throw the most money into advertising, I believe we would have a much better(not perfect) system.
  2. NVIIA
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    NVIIA - July 28, 2012 8:10 pm
    North Dakota residents will never wake up. We just had a golden opportunity to rid ourselves forever of a burdensome tax and it was shot down 80-20. People were buffaloed by smooth talking politicians. Jack our sales taxes up too, and then give the oil companies a tax break. It's about par for the course. I can't stand anybody in public anymore. There is no such thing as a righteous politician.
  3. pblaun
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    pblaun - July 27, 2012 9:20 pm
    It will go through and every time us residents go out and eat we will pay for it, eventually they will start bumping up the sales tax too. 1/2 cent here and 1/2 cent there, they will poor money into advertising and everyone will think it has to happen. I wonder when the people of North Dakota are going to wake up, might as well just turn our personal bank accounts over to the local government since they know best.
  4. RockNDBakken
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    RockNDBakken - July 27, 2012 8:04 pm
    86 million for schools, 60 million for civic center, what other big ideas are being plotted by our local officials before they raise the "assessed valuation" of our homes. Stop the sales tax increases.
  5. Ted Mosby
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    Ted Mosby - July 27, 2012 7:23 pm
    What I don't understand is how much 90% of the Trib commenters talk so terribly about our local elected officials, yet no one ran against the incumbent commissioners this year. How about some walk to back up your talk?
  6. Rag Lib
    Report Abuse
    Rag Lib - July 27, 2012 7:00 pm
    "Businessman Bill Shalhoob, who has pushed for the project, favors using a new visitors’ tax — 2 percent on rooms, 1 percent on food and 1 percent on liquor."

    While I agree an expanded Civic Center makes Bismarck a more viable option when trying to attract convention business, I have 2 questions about the taxes. Do they have a sunset clause?....once it's paid for are they done. How widespread are they?...Bismarck ,Mandan, Burleigh, Morton.
  7. dak_ota
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    dak_ota - July 27, 2012 4:11 pm
    Just say no to Bismarck tax increases. If the businesses want this to help their business then they can pay for it. Every election there is some reason to raise bismarck taxes, which are already higher than other places. What happens when things get paid for - the taxes never go down. Perhaps they should wait till they get something paid for before committing more money for things not needed.
  8. iguard1
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    iguard1 - July 27, 2012 12:54 pm
    If they do not add seats all this is becoming is a convention center and pretty much all it is now. Would be great if Bismarck could pull in more entertainment but most promoters look at how many seats they can sell. Yes, conventions bring in people and they do spend money at businesses but the capital city of our state should be drawing in big name entertainment also and between the civic center and the Belle we should have more variety and bigger & better entertainment. They also need expansion of parking via Parking ramp on the property or expansion of a parking lot. They also need to eliminate the bowen avenue road so pedestrians have safer and better access options to the property. City leaders never seem to be able to plan for the future and never seem to recognize and take advantage of the potential uses of the civic center. They need to get input from local businesses as well as residents if they really want to improve the future growth potential of the civic center.
  9. ND-Scooby doo
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    ND-Scooby doo - July 27, 2012 12:12 pm
    The Bismarck Civic Center is nothing but a big money pit and alway will be.
  10. dbumstead
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    dbumstead - July 27, 2012 11:58 am
    The Alerus Center was never meant to run at a profit itself. It was made to pull in events so there'd be more visitors spending money at local businesses. The profit that the local businesses bring in is supposed to compensate for the loss that the Alerus runs at. Whether the profit of the local businesses is enough to cover the Alerus' loss, I don't know, but you should probably do a little more research before you start commenting on something.
  11. Cornelius
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    Cornelius - July 27, 2012 11:15 am
    remember 20 years ago when they pushed the expansion through? everyone thought that they were going to expand the original building. They dug a huge hole in the ground and added the exhibition center. Before anyone figured out what they were doing it was too late.
  12. ND Observer
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    ND Observer - July 27, 2012 10:09 am
    We all benefit from having a good event center in our city. The voters will decide if the expansion takes place, and I expect to vote for it because I want to see more conventions and other events coming to Bismarck. Those who think the civic center should show a profit do not seem to understand the huge financial impact that facility has on our community. The idea is to finance the expansion through taxes that are mostly paid by nonresidents, although local residents will contribute through food and beverage taxes. It is too bad there isn't some way to attach special assessments on those businesses that directly benefit financially when events bring visitors and shoppers to town. Regardless of how it is paid for, Bismarck will be a better city if the expansion takes place.
  13. knute
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    knute - July 27, 2012 9:56 am
    Can we get Curly the guy that watches out for us to run?
  14. WeThePeople
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    WeThePeople - July 27, 2012 9:46 am
    Wow, aren’t we all in a foul mood this fine morning.

    Well, as a citizen of Morton County I cannot vote on this but if I could I would, just to spite all you miserly tightfisted naysayers.

    I have to admit, I use the Bismarck Civic Center very rarely; in fact the last time I was there was for a John Denver concert and John Denver died in 1997.
  15. johnQpublic
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    johnQpublic - July 27, 2012 9:37 am
    The mayor has wanted this civic center expansion since before the past mayoral election. The issue got tabled because his opponent was hammering him on having to double the sales tax to pay for it. Mr Mayor, do you think we forget so quickly? During this Mayor's tenure, he has allowed an aquatic center to be built that the voters overwhelmingly turned down, yet paid for by taxes from those same voters in a more round about way, he then has failed our city after the first fluke flood. I can forgive the first flood, it was a lesson for us, thus the warning signs were there, something need to be done, people were talking about it, his opponent was rising the question as to why nothing has been done, yet the slick mac daddy mayor told everyone the the city has a comprehensive flood control plan. Then it flooded again.... We have the quiet rail debate, the voters turned that down, and yet this elected city govt, the mayor the head of it, keeps looking for ways to go around the wishes of the voters. If it's built it will still be built with the tax payer money. The same tax payers that voted it down will be left to foot the bill. With leaders like this, why even vote?! The mayor does not respect the voter's wishes, he only wishes to gain prestige and personal gain for himself and his friends. You can see this clearly with this civic center expansion, he keeps pushing for it, he's got something to gain. All those who read this, I am WARNING you, beware of this snake mayor. We got railroaded with that aquatics center, our taxes keep going up, flood control needs to be improved, schools need to be build, and yet a high priority is the Civic Center! This is NOT something we need now, this civic center priority shows this mayor has no vision, he never has. Don't be fooled again.
  16. knute
    Report Abuse
    knute - July 27, 2012 9:24 am
    Another one sided tribune article that pushs the agenda of a very few! Lets vote and vote out these people. Not one person i know thinks this is right why can the tribune not do a good job? Bought and paid for by tif dollars!
  17. Edward
    Report Abuse
    Edward - July 27, 2012 8:10 am
    Syntor; So the citizens vote NO. The city commission will just build it anyway! When elected officials, people smarter than you and I, what to build something and want the citizens to pay for it they just do it.
  18. Wondering
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    Wondering - July 27, 2012 7:36 am
    Why does the city continue to add on to the civic center? There is not enough room for parking and the infrastructure is poorly designed. There are not enough events to justify expansion now. Would this bring in more events? How much would it cost to contruct a new civic center in a area of Bismarck with room to grow and with parking. How many small businesses will be force to move or go out of business because the expanision will make it impossible for their customers to get to them. This is reminding me of Minneapolis when they expended the convention center or when they put the Metrodome downtown and no parking was to be found other than in the surrounding residential areas. This made it impossible for those residents to come and go as they please without worry of parking at their own home.
  19. UBDAJUDGE
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    UBDAJUDGE - July 27, 2012 6:57 am
    Please inform us what the added expense would be to maintain the entire city owned entity as compared to current expenses. Inform us of current revenue verses expenses now and what they project in the future if voters approve expansion. It would appear that there may be more to this than just passing off the project expense to the visitors!
  20. NVIIA
    Report Abuse
    NVIIA - July 27, 2012 6:36 am
    For all the tax dollars the citizens of Bismarck have spent to have a very nice basketball arena, we sure do not see many games played there, and now the Wizards have been pulled closer to their parent team. Why don't the high schools or Umary and BSC play in that building more? Because they gouge too much, and I'm sorry, but I don' t appreciate paying $6 for a glass of crappy keg beer.

    Get more frequent events like concerts, rodeos, big truck competitions and fill your schedule before you start asking for $60M in improvements. That building stands empty too much, and throwing more money at it is lunacy.
  21. Prairie Dog
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    Prairie Dog - July 26, 2012 11:50 pm
    I really like the pretty red lighting on the street. How much for just the red lighting? Seriously, the Civiic Center in it's current capacity serves Bismarck/Mandan just fine. I would like to see a list of all the events that didn't happen, or that we missed out on because the Ciivc Center was substandard. Unless of course the pretty red lights would hlp lure the Wizards back.
  22. guide12
    Report Abuse
    guide12 - July 26, 2012 11:11 pm
    Not only does the federal government freely spend other peoples money, it now appears that the local government wants in on the tax and spend band wagon.
  23. fargoguy
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    fargoguy - July 26, 2012 9:49 pm
    clark kent: you cant be serious????
  24. clark kent
    Report Abuse
    clark kent - July 26, 2012 9:11 pm
    I have said no to this idea since it came out. The hotels are packed, we now have rush hour twice a day in Bismarck, we don't NEED more growth, we need less.
  25. Vern
    Report Abuse
    Vern - July 26, 2012 8:53 pm
    If the tribune would be performing its function of reporting.. It would be telling the voters whether or not the Civic Center runs at a profit or loss per year.. It would also show these numbers for all of the years it has been in operation.

    While it would be normal to have operational losses at the start, the expectation is that the building would at least pay for its own maintenance, upkeep and staff. If it can't do that, why throw good money after bad.
  26. CashinChecks
    Report Abuse
    CashinChecks - July 26, 2012 8:26 pm
    Sweet jesus is that an ugly building. If you are going to update a building at least cover the original 1970's part. You have the original top part of the building, surrounded by a new addition, then a proposed brand-new addition connecting the original building to the exhibition hall (which looks like a giant parking garage now). Not a very well designed update if you ask me. I do like the laser beams on the street though. Although if that picture is facing north east, that would mean the sun is rising and I'm wondering why there are so many laser cars out at that hour in the morning?

    Also, if they plan on putting the main entrance on 5th Street, the city should figure out a way to get rid of that terrible 4-way stop that is a health hazard trying to navigate while events are going on.
  27. CashinChecks
    Report Abuse
    CashinChecks - July 26, 2012 8:25 pm
    Sweet jesus is that an ugly building. If you are going to update a building at least cover the original 1970's part. You have the original top part of the building, surrounded by a new addition, then a proposed brand-new addition connecting the original building to the exhibition hall (which looks like a giant parking garage now). Not a very well designed update if you ask me. I do like the laser beams on the street though. Although if that picture is facing north east, that would mean the sun is rising and I'm wondering why there are so many laser cars out at that hour in the morning?

    Also, if they plan on putting the main entrance on 5th Street, the city should figure out a way to get rid of that terrible 4-way stop that is a health hazard trying to navigate while events are going on.
  28. sehr windig
    Report Abuse
    sehr windig - July 26, 2012 8:17 pm
    $60,000,000 divided by 62,000 residents is $967.74 per person.
  29. ndcountry
    Report Abuse
    ndcountry - July 26, 2012 8:08 pm
    If this passes, we'll all pay $10 for a hotdog there instead of $6.
  30. NDresident
    Report Abuse
    NDresident - July 26, 2012 7:48 pm
    60million dollars for a 30,000 sq foot addition and then some "touch up" on various rooms, floors, and walls???? That is all we are going to get for $60 million???? Man, they are really going to have to sell this one to the Bismarck public. I heard Williston is getting ready to break ground on their new 250,000 sq 76million state of the art Rec Center. Price tag of both projects is pretty close, but seems Williston is getting a heck of a lot more for their money. Seriously....60 million for a 30,000 sq foot ballroom? Don't count on my vote! absolutely Ridiculous!
  31. Syntor
    Report Abuse
    Syntor - July 26, 2012 6:32 pm
    As a Bismarck resident I can only hope that Bismarck voters would vote NO on something so absolutely ridiculous and wasteful as this! Up to 60 million on the Civic Center! Now I have heard of some stupid ideas (Commerce Centre) although this takes 1st place. Seems like every few years somebody comes up with a brilliant idea of making the Civic Center the "go to place" in the United States! Wake up city leaders and ask Grand Forks how their Alerus is doing! Not surprised though that Russ Staiger would endorse a waste such as this. Pathetic! Bill, take your idiotic ideas to another city.
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