Group looking to build an events center in Williston

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 11:07 AM CST
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - The population growth in Williston has led to increased demand for quality-of-life projects. One group is looking to build a facility that would make the city an entertainment hub, as well as a desirable site for sports.

People in Williston love being on the ice. If it’s not for hockey or figure skating, they’re spending their free time during open skating periods.

“It’s fun to go fast. It’s fun to do tricks and go around in circles,” said Kolben Holm, Williston Youth Hockey player.

Williston has just two rinks five miles apart: The Raymond Center and the Agri Sports Complex. The Williston Basin Skating Club and Williston State College’s Men’s Hockey Team share the two rinks, which causes overcrowding and scheduling nightmares for parents with younger skaters.

“Say you have a 12-year-old and an eight-year-old. Your 12-year-old could be up at the Raymond Center at the same time as your eight-year-old. That puts a lot of stress on the family. Maybe they have a daughter that is in dance at the same time, how are you supposed to make that all work?” said Tyler Jundt, Vice President of the Williston Energy Center Project.

The club’s solution lies in the Williston Energy Center. A nearly $30 million project that would transform the Sloulin Field Airport Hanger into a 125,000 square foot venue with three hockey rinks, all under one roof.

“There’s just not enough ice to expand even the programs we have, so it’s really important that we come up with more ice time,” said Jason Arnson, President

One rink at the center would be removable, allowing for other events such as a concert or trade show. Arnson estimates that the Williston Energy Center could bring in more than $4 million a year in total revenue for the city.

“One thing that drives me crazy is having the Bakken Oil Show outside of the Bakken in Bismarck. I think it’s just ridiculous that it’s not in town. It’s one small example of many events we could host with a facility like this,” said Arnson.

Fundraising for the Energy Center has just begun, with $2 million already donated from various members of the community. Arnson says he hopes to have a timeline of when the center could be completed by the end of next year.

Williston State College plans on adding a women’s hockey program soon, which Arnson says adds to the need for more ice.