According to preliminary, unofficial election results, only 51.73% of voters supported the tax increases, which fell short of the 60% threshold required for passage.
Community Speaks, But Needs Remain
“The people of Fargo have spoken,” said Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney. “But the fact remains that the FARGODOME needs critical upgrades and our community needs a conference center. Right now, we cannot compete with neighboring cities in attracting conferences and conventions that would elevate Fargo’s economy and generate tax revenue. We will regroup and decide next steps over the coming months.”
Mayor Mahoney also addressed the funding plan for the conference center, which would have primarily been borne by out-of-town visitors through a 3% increase in the hotel tax.
Missed Opportunity for Efficiency
Fargo Dome Authority member Dave Suppes expressed disappointment with the results, highlighting the cost-saving benefits of a combined facility.
“While we respect the voters’ wishes, we are certainly disappointed with today’s results,” said Suppes. “Having this facility on the same site as the FARGODOME would have saved taxpayer money in operating and staffing the entire facility in a time of workforce challenges.”
Suppes pointed to Grand Forks, North Dakota, as an example of a neighboring city investing in its conference center facilities.
Modernization and Accessibility Updates Denied
The project was set to address accessibility issues in the 31-year-old facility and add restrooms, improve crowd circulation, and create more concessions and seating options.
Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik emphasized the need for these improvements, noting the impact on accessibility and revenue.
“FARGODOME patrons know the venue needs accessibility updates and more restrooms, especially for women,” said Sobolik. “Without more concessions, the FARGODOME is losing sales revenue.”
Next Steps for the Fargodome and Conference Center
The City of Fargo will work with stakeholders to determine the next steps for the Fargodome and the potential for a future conference center.
“We are listening, and we will have conversations with City Commissioners, Fargo Dome Authority members and facility staff on what this vote means for our community and for the FARGODOME going forward,” said City Administrator Michael Redlinger.
A total of 7,968 voters cast ballots in the special election, with 4,122 voting yes and 3,846 voting no.
The Special Election Canvassing Board will meet on Monday, December 18, to review and certify the results.