Bismarck Event Center turning 50

BISMARCK, N.D. - The Bismarck Event Center turns 50 this year. It opened in 1969 and was the first arena of its kind in the state.

North Dakota State Historical Society

The director says the event center has hosted thousands of people to Bismarck and a variety of performances to North Dakota.

Bill Rambough started working at North Dakota's first event center just a year after it opened in 1969.

"It brings a lot of people into the community. As the first manager said, it wasn't built to make money, but it was to bring in people," said Rambough, former employee.

Rambough says he's seen the evolution of acts through the 50 years, an expansion in space, and, of course, more employees.

"It was like the premier building of North Dakota, this was like the 'ooh' and 'ah' of everything. There was no FargoDome, there was no Englestad Arena, there was no Alerus Center, there was none of that. Back in '69 when this opened, this was everybody's wish," said Charlie Jeske, director.

The event center's first event was Holiday on Ice and Lawrence Welk, an orchestra, was the first concert to be held there. Chairs for guests were once made of wood.

"The biggest change I've seen is with ticketing, is what's happening with ticketing nowadays. When I first started 12 years ago, there wasn't really mobile phones or mobile ticketing and that's huge right now and changing," said Jeske.

Jeske says early events didn't have many concession options, different lights and stages, and he's excited to see where the progression of live entertainment is going since its always changing.

The Event Center will be celebrating its 50th anniversary later this year.