GRAND FORKS - Contract negotiations with the Philadelphia-based firm tapped to take over management of the Alerus Center are in flux after Grand Forks city leaders became aware of contracts between the firm and the Fargodome.
Members of the Grand Forks Events Center Commission had been told event management firm Spectra was no longer working with the Fargodome, which Spectra managed for 12 years before the city of Fargo took the reins in 2016. The commission knew of a consulting agreement Spectra had with the Fargodome that is set to expire in next month. But commission leaders recently learned Spectra still has the contract to provide ticketing and food and beverage services for the Fargodome, which some fear will lead to a conflict of interest when bidding for events.
"That was miscommunicated to us," Julie Rygg, commission chairperson told commissioners of Spectra's agreements in Fargo.
Spectra managed the Fargodome from 2003 to 2016 and retained contracts to run food and beverage services and ticketing when the city of Fargo took over the venue's management, Forum News Service reported.
The omission alarmed several commission members and prompted a discussion on potential changes to the contract before an agreement is set to be finalized next month.
"It doesn't pass the sniff test for me," said commission member Hal Gershman.
The commission hopes to finalize its contract with Spectra in June and plans to have the firm take over the Alerus Center in July.
Grand Forks City Attorney Howard Swanson said the commission could add a termination clause in the contract for demonstrated conflict of interest.
City Administrator Todd Feland said Spectra did not consider food and beverage and ticketing services as competition between the venues. He added the commission is unaware when the contracts between Spectra and the Fargodome expire.
Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said the food and beverage contract with Specta runs through 2018, with an option for a two-year extension. The Spectra ticketing contract runs through 2020. A third contract Spectra has with the Fargodome for consulting expires June 30 and will not be renewed, Sobolik said.
Swanson told commissioners he had looked at other venue management contracts where the company would have a radius around a venue and agree to not work with other venues in that territory.
Commissioners have three options moving forward with Spectra, Swanson said. They could sign the Spectra contract as it stands; make changes to protect the Alerus Center against conflicts of interests and then sign the contract; or scrap the contract and consider other firms.
Spectra is owned by the same parent company as the Philadelphia Flyers. Former University of North Dakota men's hockey coach Dave Hakstol, now the Flyers coach, recommended the firm to commission members.
The commission had also been considering an agreement with SMG, a firm that operates U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Feland said the commission's leadership will be meeting with Spectra management representatives next week.
The Grand Forks Events Center Commission meets next on June 28.