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UND, Engelstad Arena close to new agreement

An interior look at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks as a worker prepares for another hockey season last year. Forum News Service file photo

GRAND FORKS—A new usage agreement between the University of North Dakota and the Ralph Engelstad Arena may be completed as soon as Wednesday, June 20, according to university spokesman Peter Johnson.

The usage agreement differs from the 30-year lease agreement between the university and the arena and deals with the operations and use of the building.

The Ralph, a $110 million gift from Ralph Engelstad to the university, was completed in 2001 as the home to UND hockey. It is owned and operated independently by RE Arena Inc. and is leased to the university.

The arena is set to be turned over to the university in September 2030.

The two entities have been without a written agreement over the past year, Jody Hodgson, general manager of the Ralph said Tuesday, but have carried on as if the previous agreement was still in place. He said the new agreement will date back, retroactively, to July 1, 2017.

UND President Mark Kennedy said previously that few changes are expected to the new agreement.

Overall, there have been few changes in the last four usage agreements between the university and REA. In each agreement REA agreed to pay UND $1 million as a ticket revenue advance each year. The two entities then agreed to reconcile ticket revenue at a later date, typically in May or June.

Ticket revenues between UND and RE Arena Inc. are split, with RE Arena Inc. currently receiving 52 percent the revenues while UND receives the other 48 percent, according to the agreement.

The agreements also note that REA and the UND athletic department will exchange proposed annual budgets each year.

The agreements cover a wide variety of subjects, including facility usage, parking lot, alcohol sales, concession stands and suites, among other topics

The previous usage agreements have lasted varying lengths, most between one and two years.

According to the original usage agreement between UND and REA, UND controlled all ticket revenue from UND athletic events held in the arena, which was later taken over by the RE Arena Inc.

"I think every few years we take a look at it to see what needs to be changed, if anything," Johnson said. "There's been a number of changes since the Ralph was built and then the Betty was added. So, for example, originally we did our own ticketing, but then after seven years or so the Ralph took over the ticketing, then that included football after a few years, so there's been some changes periodically."

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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