Commissioners Discuss Civic Center Expansion | VideoJennifer Joas | 1/22/2013
The Bismarck Civic Center is a Mecca for concerts, conferences and musical performances in western North Dakota. But, it is not big enough. Eleven events have recently maxed out the facility and there is a need for more space.
"As convention business has evolved, the expectations have increased and the demand on meeting room space is far different than it was even when the exhibit hall was first constructed," said Jeff Ubl, Ubl Design Group.
He presented a plan to the Bismarck City Commission that included adding an addition 49,000 square feet to the Exhibit Hall, renovating meeting rooms, locker rooms and performer areas. Ubl says if they do not make these changes, performers could go elsewhere.
"It is having an effect on the booking of arena events because, quite frankly, a lot of these performers that are using the space talk. And they know that there is no air conditioning back here, the facilities are not ideal. The security is not ideal," said Ubl.
But the “no” vote during the general election has commissioners cautious to accept the plan. And they want more public input.
"Get some of that feedback and hear from people on the ground about what they are saying. Especially because it has been so close to the grander vision. And I agree this is different, but when you see some of those things and think about it, it gives me pause," said Josh Askvig, Bismarck commissioner.
The commissioners agreed to move forward with the design phase, but only for the exhibit, which would cost approximately $25 million. They plan to pay for that out of the current hospitality tax budget. Commissioner would like to see the project complete by early 2014.