December 6, 2023
FARGO, N.D.–A ballot measure for a $140 million Fargodome expansion and convention center failed to pass on Tuesday.
To pass, the measure needed 60% approval, but just under 52% of the votes were yes. City auditor Steve Sprague said preliminary results show 7,968 ballots were cast. Of those, 4,122 were ‘yes’ and 3,846 were ‘no.’
Had the measure passed, it would have meant a quarter-cent sales tax increase, and 3% lodging tax increase over the next 20 years.
Deb Mathern co-chairs Fargodome Reimagined, the committee that pushed for the project. She said there is no “Plan B.”
“I’m extremely disappointed that people didn’t understand the importance. I think a lot of people just heard the word tax and didn’t think through it or delve any further. At this point, there will not be renovations done to the Fargodome and there will be no convention center. It’s a detriment to our city. We will move backwards while cities like Grand Forks and Bismarck continue to move forward,” Mathern said.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said the people have spoken, “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.”
Charley Johnson, who leads the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he was disappointed in the vote results, but that discussions now need to happen about what the community wants.
“As far as meeting space goes, I’m not inclined to give up during whatever time I have left on this job. I still think that we need meeting space in this town, and that it would be an economic boon in a business sense that would permeate into the entire community. So we’ll see if there are some other options to try and get that accomplished,” he said.
The election results will be certified on Dec. 18.