Will visitors have a place to stay when Theodore Roosevelt library is built?

Published: Apr. 25, 2019 at 7:46 PM CDT
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We’ve read the viewer comments on the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library for months. There’s been a lot of them and it has been a mixed reaction at best after the legislature voted to move forward on the $150 million dollar project, committing $50 million into an endowment fund for operating costs.

Sara Otte-Coleman, the state’s tourism director, says right now, the numbers they’re working with for expected visitors is 125,000. Is there enough hotel space to handle that many people?

Here’s what we found:


Based on 2018 data provided by the Dickinson Conventions and Visitors Bureau, there are 1,732 hotel rooms in Dickinson. We got the occupancy rates for each month, May-November, and calculated how many people they could accommodate using the formula below. We assumed there would be no growth in occupancy rates from 2018 to 2019:

  • Total number of rooms minus rooms occupied by month = Available rooms.
  • Available rooms multiplied by the days in the month = the max number of rooms in a month.
  • Assume two people per room, multiplied by the max room number and you get the max turnover rate for a month. This means every day, all the rooms in Dickinson would be replaced with a brand new group of people.

We also multiplied by half the number of days in a month, meaning there would be complete turnover every two days. Months with 31, May, July, August, and October, days were rounded up to 16 for the two-day formula.



1,732 - 831 (occupancy of 48 percent) = 901 rooms

901 x 31 days = 27,931 maximum available rooms for the month of May

27,931 x 2 people per room = 55,862 people who could move through Dickinson hotels in a month

Using the every two-day formula, 901 x 16 = 14,416 maximum rooms, multiplied by 2 people per room = 28,832 people.


1,732 - 1,073 (occupancy of 62 percent) = 659 rooms

659 x 30 days = 19,770 maximum rooms for June

19,770 x 2 people per room = 39,540 people

Using the two-day formula, 659 x 15= 9,885 maximum rooms for June, multiplied by 2 people per room = 19,770 people.


1,732-1,160 (occupancy of 67 percent) = 572 rooms

572 x 31 days = 17,732 maximum rooms for July

17,732 x 2 people per room= 35,464 people

Using the two-day formula, 572 rooms x 16= 9,152 rooms for July, multiplied by 2 people per room = 18,304 people.


1,732-1,229 (occupancy of 71 percent) = 503 rooms

503 x 31 days = 15,593 maximum rooms for August

15,593 x 2 people per room = 31,186 people

Using the two-day formula, 503 rooms x 16= 16,096 maximum rooms for August, multiplied by 2 people per room = 16,096 people.


1,732 - 1,108 (occupancy of 64 percent) = 624 rooms

624 x 30 days = 18,720 maximum rooms for September

18,720 x 2 people per room= 37,440 people

Using the two-day formula, 624 rooms x 15= 9,360 maximum rooms for September, multiplied by 2 people per room= 18,720 people.


1,732- 1,021 (occupancy of 59 percent) = 711 rooms

711 x 31 days= 22,041 maximum rooms for October

22,041 x 2 people per room= 44,082 people

Using the two-day formula, 711 rooms x 16= 11,376 maximum rooms for October, multiplied by 2 people per room = 22,752 people.


1,732 - 883 (occupancy of 51 percent) = 849 rooms

849 x 30 days = 25,740 maximum rooms for November

25,740 x 2 people per room= 50,940 people

Using the two-day formula, 849 x 15= 12,735 maximum rooms for November, multiplied by 2 people per room = 25,740 people.


Here’s the importance of everything above.

The city of Dickinson is the closest large city to Medora. If they can’t handle the expected number of people, then there’s a hotel infrastructure problem.

Using the math above, we conclude Dickinson alone can easily handle 125,000 visitors if every hotel room was filled with 2 new people every day from May through November.

If the turnover is every two days through the same time frame, the maximum accommodation would be 150,214 people. Any expansion in non-library business requiring hotel rooms could cut into available inventory. So could a true number of visitors above the 125,000 estimate.

This study excluded rooms available in Belfield and Medora, and couldn’t take into account any potential hotels that may come to the region as a result of the project.

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