WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 18, 2012, 08:18 PM

The Fargodome has left a big impact in just twenty years

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It was considered a huge gamble, one that many taxpayers didn't want to pay for.

By: Dom Izzo, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It was considered a huge gamble, one that many taxpayers didn't want to pay for.

But there's little debate now that the 48 million dollars spent on the Fargodome was a huge deal, not just FOR the city but also the entire state of North Dakota.

It's the most recognizable building in the Fargo-Moorhead area; if you're coming in from out of town, it's the first thing you see when you leave the airport. 20 years after the Fargodome opened it's doors for the 1st

time, it now has earned it's reputation as one of the best facilities in the nation.

Rob Sobolik/Fargodome General Manager: "In the beginning there were many detractors obviously, there are few and far between now; it's a building that has brought everyone together."

Bruce Furness/Former Mayor of Fargo: "People viewed it as a gamble, certainly it's a gamble that paid off; it kept us going, brought events in, brought people in."

The people have come in since the first event when the Oakridge boys played up till just last month when Carrie Underwood was here; the dome has seen the top acts in music from AC/DC to Elton John, to the circus, rodeo; Harlem Globetrotters; the USA wrestling nationals and all the while

attracting people from all over the upper Midwest.

Sobolik: "I think Fargo really found a good nice with the Fargodome for

the general public supporting the acts that come here."

The Dome had a major setback in 2000, when it suffered millions of dollars in damage after a torrential summer rainstorm, that warped the basketball floor,contaminated the Fargo freeze turf and sent water 12 feet above concourse level. But in 2009 it gave back to the community when flood waters rose to a dramatic level the Dome housed sandbags for over a week.

Sobolik: "That Monday night when I saw that first load of sand and said what are we doing."

What's brought the dome to national prominence has been the success of the permanent tenants of the building, the Bison football team.

Gene Taylor/NDSU Athletic Director: "It's an impressive building and as I've been here, the building has been upgraded; set tone for NDSU perspective; but most people talking during our playoff run, talking about NDSU and how loud it is."

Furness: "It's been a huge influence; it was the forerunner for what we did with Newman Outdoor Field and Scheels Arena."

Talks of expanding the dome have quieted recently after a proposed basketball expansion was shot down a few years ago, Sobolik says his

next goal is to improve some of the amenities to keep this building among the 50 best in the nation.

According to F-M Convention and Visitor's Bureau over the past 20 years the Fargodome has had an economic impact of nearly a billion dollars.