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Published November 01, 2012, 05:28 PM

Scheels Arena reduces its debt by $16 million

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Scheel's Arena has reduced its debt by 16-million dollars, thanks to an agreement with banks and lenders. Operators of the facility say the debt reduction will make the arena profitable again.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Scheels Arena has reduced its debt by 16-million dollars, thanks to an agreement with banks and lenders. Operators of the facility say the debt reduction will make the arena profitable again.

The big chunk of debt was taken out by a gift of $8.5 million dollars from an anonymous benefactor. The rest was debt reduction from several banks, and loan forgiveness from private investors.

A 23 million dollar debt on the Scheels Arena that the Metro Sports Foundation, or MSF, has struggled with for years is now down to 6.8 million dollars.

Bruce Furness/MSF Treasurer: It's a win for MSF, obviously, and for Scheels Arena. It will allow us to operate that facility in the black and be profitable.

The agreement has been in the works for about a year, and involves about a dozen banks that are reducing their share of the debt.

The $25 million dollar arena was built in 2008, and the foundation has since struggled to generate enough revenue to pay down the debt.

This week, the arena hosted its first concert in ten months.

General Manager Jon Kram hopes the agreement will open the door for more opportunities, now that much of the debt is gone.

Jon Kram/General Manager: "I think that left people asking, should they go to the Civic, to the Fargodome, or the arena, the Scheels Arena, because there's three choices. And we don't know, because they sometimes wouldn't reach out, but we feel now that we have a much brighter future. More people might reach out and see us as a site."

Eventually, the operators want to add a four-rink expansion to provide more space for youth hockey, one of the original purposes of the arena.

Furness: "But we're not gonna start until we actually have the funding. That was one of the mistakes we made last time. We just got too far ahead of ourselves before the financing got all finalized."

General Manager Jon Kram says the arena expects to turn a profit this year after the deal kicks in.

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