Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Alerus Center's makeover

We've been hearing about the Alerus Center's plans for renovations the past couple of months now.  Currently, Alerus Center executive director Steve Hyman is asking for an additional $465, 569.83 from the city to fund exterior and interior renovations for this year.  Further renovations are being planned for next year and an additional financial request will be made at a later date to fund those plans. Take a look at the Alerus Center's 2008 plans in the city council packet for the upcoming September 15th city council meeting.

The plans for this year call for for new signage on the exterior of the center.  The "Alerus Center" signs will be moved to more prominent locations and a new "Alerus Center" sign will be added to the building's east side which faces 42nd Street.  Additionally, signage promoting the Alerus as the home of UND football will be added to the building's southwest corner.  Some landscaping will also take place outside.  Interior renovations for this year include new display walls in the center's lobby area.

Is this money well spent?  What other renovations or capital improvement projects would you like to see the Alerus Center undertake in upcoming years?

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that the new signage would probably help. I think the Alerus Center needs to distinguish itself more from the attached Canad Inn. The Canad is dominant being taller and the signs, etc. I also like how the signs will light up at night. Maybe they should spend some of the money on making 42nd street 4 lane all of the way to 32nd avenue. Or maybe had an off/on ramp to the freeway at 17th avenue.

Matthew said...

Just what we need in this town, more light pollution.

Anonymous said...

Light pollution? Are you serious........

Anonymous said...

Light pollution, look it up. Or better yet, drive aways out of town and look around the horizon. Every town has a dome of light over it.

Anonymous said...

What a complete waste of money. Woo new signs! Now instead of lighting up the sign in blue, they are green! Man, I am glad we spent that 100,000 and all of that time so we can have some sweet green glow. That blue was way too old school. Complete waste.

Clint F said...

Man, I don't envy you guys that money pit. And it still looks like a quonset on the inside.

My impressions of the Alerus have all come from the perspective of a guy who was there to work for a TV sports broadcast, and every time I've found the place to be disappointing, with rude and beligerent staff. Even more astonishing is the city of Grand Forks' obsession with shoveling money at it.

Bubble Head said...

Anyone know what the Alerus Bank paid for the naming rights?

How long does the contract for the naming rights last?

Why not ask the Alerus Bank to cover the signage cost. It's just a big advertisment for the bank.

Just a thought anyway.

Anonymous said...

I think the improvements are needed and-I'm sure I'll take a beating for saying this–a bargain for the price.

BTW-I've had architect friends visiting from other cities compliment the Alerus' unique use of materials and design while trashing the Ralph's ostentatious style...I like it.

Goon said...

We should not have to pay anymore money for that place. Everytime we turn around the city is trying to steal more money from us.

Anonymous said...

Alerus paid 1 million for the naming rights....

Anonymous said...

What are Steve Hyman's motives behind all these new improvements lately. What is he trying to get from all this? Next he'll be looking for a bigger paycheck. What skeletons does he have in his closet?

Clint F said...

I just remember that the mud hadn't dried from the big flood and there was already a delegation down here at the Capitol, standing with their hats in their hands for that money pit. I think the first broadcast I worked in up there, it was still the Aurora Center.

We have our money pit too, a la the Bismarck Civic Center. What is it with city governments and their pet projects?

Anonymous said...

Clint - it was the Alerus before it opened.

Anonymous said...

hey clint, the bismarck civic center was around before you were born. What is it with city governments pet projects? I may be going out on a limb here, but it seems to me it would be pretty hard to hold a basketball tournament or some other event at bismarck high school. So, we build civic centers, fargo domes and alerus's and we hope to get events in there in order to draw people to town so they can spend their money in our towns. I don't know that I would call them "money pits". I think we get some kind of return on our investment, don't we? I'm not saying we get big profits, but what do we do if we don't have that venue??

Anonymous said...

oh, and before I forget, the Alerus center makes the bismarck civic center look like an outhouse.Bismarck should spend some money on that plalce. I wouldn't call it a money pit so much as just being a pit...

Anonymous said...

Hey, 8:06 and 8:10,

Reality check! Before The Alerus was approved by the voters (after 3 votes!) the projections were cooked by a few to get the public to vote in support of the project. The data was skewed to approve the location where it currently is because these supporters (read bankers) thought that was the best potential for THEM, not the public. The bankers (who were involved from day 1) falsified a release that they were the mighty ones to step up and pay the naming rights, it was the plan all along. Long time business operators and employers that helped build this community were raped in their flood recovery stages to greater increase the viability of The Alerus. How much of a rehash do you all want? We ALL could go on and on.

Again...NO success as an arena concert venue. NO success as a REGIONAL convention center.

The problem with what's left of the supporters is reality. It's hard to argue with years of hard numbers. The community needs to step up and demand some accountability from these geniuses (yeah right!) who shoved this down the communitie's throats.

"Supporters" want to push the facts? I thought not! Get over yourselves, face reality and fix this mess. Comparing it to other facilities in the region and hyping the Cher show ain't cutting it! Compare numbers, number my friends.

Anonymous said...

I almost expected your post to be signed by greenglas...

Anonymous said...

So what if it took three votes to pass the events center?!?!!! The plan was changed each time to try to appease voters and eventually they came up with one that the MAJORITY of people agreed was a good one. I voted yes all those years ago and I can tell you that I have never since thought that I was duped or mislead in any way. Maybe some supporters were overstating the financials, but the city people and those closest to the project, in my mind, never promised the moon. We got exactly what I was expecting when I voted yes. While there are some things about the center I wish were different (more concerts, cheaper beer, free and better parking), overall I'm satisfied. I'm sure the Alerus would be doing better if the Ralph had not been built, but it's hard to complain about having two large-scale facilities in a town this size.

Also, I like the look of the building from the 42nd Street side. The interstate side does leaves something to be desired.

The biggest mistake involving the early days of the Alerus was abandoning the plan to have the field be below ground level so that you would walk in on the concourse level. That would have eliminated some of the height of the building, which is one thing that contributes to complaints about the look of the building. Also, I think it would have made it cheaper to add seating down the road.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine the city without the Alerus. That doesn't mean there haven't been some mistakes made at every level, especially concert bookings. But the previous blogger is right. The Ralph messed with the city's optimistic plans. The Democratic convention was a success. We hosted the two Dem contenders with capacity crowds. But imagine the World Juniors and all the concerts and other events that were held at the Ralph going to the Alerus.

Anonymous said...

I also voted for the Alerus Center and think that we have had some pretty good events there. My life is not worse because of it.

Anonymous said...

The World Juniors would NEVER had been held at the Alerus. Not ever. Don't fool yourself.

I think the Ralph was the best thing that could have happened to GF. It was a privately funded operation that came in and kicked the hell out of a government-run bad idea. I hope it keeps slapping that place around for a long time.

Anonymous said...

The Ralph was/is a once in a lifetime deal that only happened by chance/accident. If they could, I bet some folks in GF would jump on the "I'll take credit bandwagon!"

Bubble Head said...

I voted no on each election for the Alerus Center. The 20 million cost turned into 60 million after the project began. I wish they would have built it a bit different and at another location.

Now that we have it, I'm not unhappy about it. I can now see that we needed a new events center. It works.

Look how many times the Fargo Dome has been improved over the years with a new front and signage.

I don't see the Ralph slapping the Al around. If there was no Ralph, only a few of the music events would have been at the Al.

Just wait for the new UND football dome to be built.

Anonymous said...

Will the Alerus Center provide financial statements for Plan B events? I think it would be useful for the citizens of GF to analyze if these events are good for the center.

bjmoney said...

Will the Alerus Center provide financial statements for Plan B events? I think it would be useful for the citizens of GF to analyze if these events are good for the center.

It's about $50 per event, unfortunately it also lowers the number of people attending events...

Anonymous said...

The old civic auditorium lost approximately $200,000 a year and brought nothing to Grand Forks, yet a building that brings in people from all around that actually is looking to make a profit now that it has the convention business from the Canad is being questioned. I would like to take a look at the pocketbooks of the people complaining, because they must not have a lot of financial sense.

IanMore said...

Why would you think that Plan B would make that much money? Don't people in this town realize in order to make money you have to book corporate events? You can rent the same thing to a corporate gig for twice as much and they'll pay it! Its stupid but true.

Why risk money on concerts when you can do less work, and make more money? Its obvious there.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how updating some signs on the outside of the building is going to increase profit. ...

Anonymous said...

2:16,

Your old Civic argument has been debunked years ago. Get on board.

Anonymous said...

I think for a city its size GF has amazing facilities covering a wide range of needs:
Big events: Ralph and Alerus
Decent size venue with great acoustics: Fritz
Smaller community/corporate events: Empire

What we've got to work on is things for convention-goers (and their families) to do while they're here.

Anonymous said...

Mark my words - with the new general manager of the Alerus, his past success and future drive to make the Alerus succeed, you will see a huge increase in the shows at the Alerus. You heard it here first!

Anonymous said...

2:11,

Not gonna happen. There problem isn't the number of shows. The problem is lack of a market to support arena concert tours. Promoters have been burned too many times. Less shows in the future. If any, straight commercial mass-appeal schlock.

Ben said...

Ok - leave your name (not a stalker, don't worry...just give me a screen name or something) so I can say I told you so when the shows start to line up.

Anonymous said...

ben,

Sit back, relax, open your mind. Your attitude is blocking your ability to form a simple understanding of how The Alerus Center's concert operation works. I say "concert" because I assume that's what you mean by "shows". Hopefully, after the explanation below, you will see that personnel at the center has NOTHING to do with the number of shows.

Okay, The Alerus Center in regards to arena concerts is a rental facility. Promoters rent the property, swing a tour through the market, and hope they sell enough tickets to make a buck. In the context of major touring artists, there are only three promoters. They now have 7 years of hard numbers to prove the fact that it is simply not viable to bring major productions to Grand Forks. They don't sell enough tickets. Get it? It's a very simple business, I assume you're smart enough to understand.

Now, the reality is, there will probably be less and less shows at The Alerus. Why? Market conditions. Economic uncertainty, fuel prices, rising ticket prices, etc.

Do you get it? Want to go another round?

ARTISTS do NOT want to come to The Alerus. Why? The same 7 years of hard numbers mentioned above. When artists (their people actually) receive an offer from a promoter for a string of dates, we'll say ten for this discussion, the artists representatives do their due diligence and slash out the dates like Grand Forks. BTW, I said that to make a point, markets such as Grand Forks are hardly ever included in the offers. Why? See above point regarding the 7 years of hard (weak) numbers. Why do artists not come to Grand Forks? It costs THEM. Tours are "cross-collateralized". Meaning, all ten of the dates are accounted for together. Artists receive a guarantee and percentages above contractual break points. We'll say bonus money to help you get it. If Grand Forks is the 10th date on a tour, and all the previous 9 make "bonus" money for the artists, the promoters losses in Grand Forks are SUBTRACTED from the bonus money earned by the artist along the other 9 dates.

These are not new concepts in the industry. They are simple facts that were out there before the Alerus was approved. The supporters relentlessly, and recklessly, hammered Grand Forks voters and got the center approved even though it was not a financially viable project.

You count the dates. The rest of the world will count successful dates.

Anonymous said...

"ARTISTS do NOT want to come to The Alerus."

I guess that upcoming events by Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Neil Diamond, two announced major concerts in November (one of whom does have experience in Grand Forks, having been here last year), would indicate that you're quite incorrect in your claims.

Epic fail!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Epic Idiot. I understand the business concept above blew your mind. There are exceptions, of course.

Anonymous said...

The argument of the fool...

"ARTISTS do NOT want to come to The Alerus." (an absolute, stated with claims of authority.)

"Here's two big names that DO want to come to the Alerus."

(Insert insult) "Oh, there are exceptions."

If so, try positing your points in less absolute terms. You can claim pretty much anything if you add "there are exceptions" to it.

Anonymous said...

There's a problem with your premise. The "big names" you mentioned may be big names in your mind but in the context of major entertainment business, they're "stunt bookings". Neil Diamond is a nostalgia act at this point in his career and Trans-Siberian is a theme show.

Nothing against either of them, it's just a fact.

I'd also be quick to add, Neil Diamond is probably one of the most consistent drawing arena acts of the last 25 years. However, again, he's a nostalgia act.

Both shows are good catches for The Alerus. I hope the market supports the bookings and buys up all the tickets. There is only one thing that will help The Alerus' concert event days, and that's ticket sales. You need to understand that with the history of the venue and the market, current economic conditions, and fuel costs, the safe bet would be nothing will be turning around too quickly on the arena side.

Oh yeah, there are exceptions.

ben said...

Steve Hyman said in the paper there will be several more exceptions soon. Seems like Micheal W Smith just added a date at the Alerus. So did Disney Live. Seems like the exception is becoming the rule...not that I would ever expect you to say that you might have been wrong.

Anonymous said...

"There is only one thing that will help The Alerus' concert event days, and that's ticket sales."

Well, rumor is that TSO is trying to figure out how to make the show bigger because the demand is higher than expected. Neil, on the other hand, is going to be stymied by out of control ticket prices - $122 on the high end, and the first 20 rows are set aside for "VIP" tickets that range between $250 and $500 a seat. That will be a pretty tough sell (I like him, but I have better things to spend a thousand dollars on).

VIP ticket info at http://www.iloveallaccess.com/checkpass.php?iArtistId=77

The password is "homebeforedark" (his new album title, I guess)

Anonymous said...

ben,

The types of performances you mentioned are precisely what I'd consider a good fit for the market. The A-List hot tours of the day are probably a long shot for The Alerus. Oh, there may be exceptions.

You are correct, I am not wrong. It's obvious you're just rambling from a "homer" perspective. It's okay, I like it, it's cute.

Anonymous said...

ben,

I saw your reply in the other thread. I think I may be able to just leave it at this (hopefully). Don't you think it's silly that when The Alerus Center does what it's supposed to do, that is, book an arena event or a convention, some citizens and the media jump up and down like it's some major success?

Again, the property does what it has supposed to do all along, and we're expected to celebrate the feat like it's a major "get". That's a symbol that the property is in a major hole and every little accomplishment is over blown.

Can we agree on that?

Sorry (again) for the rehash but, the 7 year history of the property proves that the development was just way, way, too aggressive for a market the size of G.F. And, the tone with which the supporters in the campaign stage looked down at the "naysayers" like they were a bunch of heyseeds was condescending and divisive.

Furthermore, anyone viewing the Alerus' report to the city council last year on TV after the kneejerk reaction to fire the management company to save a few bucks (I say kneejerk because they didn't even realize that they couldn't get a liquor license) had to be very disheartened. What we all saw on the surface was the Alerus Commission President reporting to the City Council but, what was indeed happening was The President of Alerus Bank was reporting to an Alerus Bank stockholder and board member. I say it was disheartening because instead of a straight up report from an Alerus Center official, what took place was before the report, the City Council President went on and on about how great the Alerus Center is to set the table in a positive way before the Alerus Commission President reported the bad news.

I'm sure anyone interested in seeing the exchange can look it up online and form their own opinion.

In my opinion, that exchange was way out of bounds and to anyone watching, it was crystal clear what exactly was going on there.

To close I will state that with The Canad and the new director, The Alerus is poised for improvement in the future.

ben said...

Yup - we can certainly agree that the Alerus has not been handled well in the past. In fact, there was a time where it seemed they even stopped trying to get any acts or shows in the building. That should have alarmed and frustrated all taxpayers who are on the hook financially. I am optimistic because it looks like the new manager of the place seems to really be invested in the Alerus - by trying hard to give the taxpayers a profitable place, as well as a variety of quality acts. Perhaps with the addition of the Canad and new manager, the place is actually poised for improvement. Maybe my earlier posts seemed like all I was doing was singing praises, but I have certainly been frustrated in the past, but now there seems to be reason to be optimistic on the place.

Anonymous said...

(the band plays cumbaya)