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Robyn Johnsen

Bismarck native Robyn Johnsen spoke during an event at the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning about forming a Sports and Events Commission.

A group of Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce members recommend a community group dedicated to attracting sporting events to the area.

Members of the chamber’s leadership program, Leadership Bismarck-Mandan, presented research Thursday on the possibility of forming a local sports commission.

While the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes the area’s sporting amenities, a sports commission could build on that, according to Brad Davision, of Leadership Bismarck-Mandan.

In Bismarck, the 2015 Class B Boys Basketball Tournament brought in $1.3 million of visitor spending, the Leadership Bismarck-Mandan group said.

The group said the largest benefit of a commission is, rather than each sporting venue working separately to attract events, attraction efforts could be centralized.

Bismarck-Mandan is in need of more recreation facilities, according to a city-funded study of entertainment venue options. Members of Leadership Bismarck-Mandan said the attraction of more events could raise interest and investment in more facilities.

The Leadership Bismarck-Mandan group did not make recommendations on size or type of sporting events it thought a potential commission should pursue, nor did it suggest a funding method.

Bismarck-Mandan has 53 baseball and softball diamonds, 25 basketball courts, seven golf courses, three hockey rinks, 33 soccer fields, three aquatics centers and 34 tennis courts.

There is the Community Bowl that seats 6,000 for football, soccer and track. Bismarck State College has an Olympic-sized pool. The VFW Sports Center seats 1,300 for ice sports. Nishu Bowmen Archery Club has an indoor archery range and Scheels Sports Complex and Cottonwood Soccer Complex are two facilities with a large cluster of playing fields.

The Leadership Bismarck-Mandan group said a sports commission could help these existing complexes to be better utilized. For example, ice could be added to the Community Bowl for outdoor hockey or ice sports events.

Kelvin Hullet, president of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber board will take the Leadership Bismarck-Mandan group's study under consideration and decide if and how a sports commission might be started in the community.

(Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com.)

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Business Reporter