On Dec. 5, Fargo residents will go to the polls for a special election, deciding on potential additions to the FARGODOME. The proposed expansion is centered around a new 90,000-square-foot conference center. The $140 million expansion also includes other renovations to the current venue, such as more bathrooms and concessions, while also improving accessibility and circulation.
Supporters of the proposal argue that the Fargo-Moorhead area needs and would greatly benefit from a conference center. Hosting events and venues in the area is limited mainly to hotel conference spaces, which are smaller. The proposed addition would put Fargo on par with other conference centers in places such as Sioux Falls, St. Cloud and Duluth. With such a venue, supporters argue that Fargo would gain economic and cultural benefits from being able to host larger events and conferences.
The pay for the $140 million expansion, the proposal also includes a quarter percent increase in sales tax and a 3% increase in lodging taxes for the next 20 years. If approved, Fargo’s sales tax would go to 7.75%, and the lodging taxes would go to 13.75%.
Many community members have voiced concerns about this funding. Critics see the sales tax as regressive, putting the burden more on lower-income taxpayers. One reason is that the sales tax doesn’t increase for purchases of more than $2,500. Others are skeptical of the economic benefits that are promised and would rather have the money spent elsewhere, such as on roads or housing.
Proponents of the expansion support the funding decision by emphasizing how much of the funding will not come from Fargo residents but from those visiting. Doug Restemayer, the co-hair behind the organization pushing for the change, says that it is estimated that 55% of the funding will come from out-of-town visitors.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. Voting locations include the FARGODOME, the Fargo Civic Center at 207 4th St. N. and the Ramada (former Doublewood) Inn at 3333 13th Ave. S. To be approved, the proposal requires 60% of votes to be in favor.