GRAND FORKS – If the proposed stadium becomes a reality, it will increase Altru Health System’s total revenue and land grants to Greater Grand Forks organizations by more than $30 million over more than a decade.
On Tuesday, city leaders gathered for an event at City Hall to announce Altru — a health care provider in Grand Forks — has pledged $10 million to the sports center that will be the focus of a citywide vote on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The $ 10. million will give Altru naming rights in the area of about $ 100 million and will be paid over 25 years.
“Obviously, we are very happy with this and our confidence in this project speaks for itself. There are many benefits to this and how it affects … the health and well-being of the community,” Altru CEO Todd Forkel said of the organization’s commitment to the proposed stadium. “We believe and are encouraged by everything we have discussed today that this has a great opportunity to pass and be implemented in our community.”
Technically, Tuesday’s vote will determine the future of the 0.75% tax that has been in place in Grand Forks since the mid-1990s, the money for the construction and maintenance of the Alerus Center. Set to sunset in 2029, voters will announce whether they want the tax to continue as is, and if so, use the money raised this time to build an indoor sports complex near the Alerus Center that would include a sand court, walking track, pickleball courts and, most notably, a swimming pool that would replace the demolished Hyslop Sports Center at UND.
Altru’s interest in joining the concept stems from the nonprofit’s “mission to give back to community services that create the health and well-being of its residents,” Forkel said.
The indoor sports center “fits perfectly with (Altru’s) mission and vision,” he said. And, if it is actually built, Altru’s offering will continue the high-quality promises made in recent years.
In the past two years, Altru has provided:
● Land, worth $4 million, for the Grand Forks daycare center;
● $1,004,150 for the Grand Forks Career Impact Academy, which is being built on the north side of the city;
● and $750,000 to Grand Forks Public Schools, related to renovations at Cushman Field and sports medicine services.
Altru also has a number of recent “established gifts” over the past decade, which have long payout periods. It includes contributions of:
● $6.5 million to the Grand Forks Park District, to be used to build Choice Health and Fitness in the south end of Grand Forks;
● $10 million to the UND Foundation, to support the construction of the Fritz Pollard Athletic Center;
● and $450,000 to the city of East Grand Forks, related to health and financial services.
All told, that’s more than $22 million in big-ticket donations over more than 10 years, including a $10 million commitment announced this week for the home stadium, pending voters’ approval of the entire project, of course. It does not include other, smaller, contributions made by the hospital at that time.
Forkel said that as a non-profit health care provider, the organization must give back to the community in a variety of ways.
“One of the ways we do this is to support activities that are in line with our mission. The Altru Sports Complex provides opportunities for our community to be active throughout the year and promote safety and health,” he said, noting his connection to Altru’s mission and vision. “We believe that this facility will also contribute significantly to a healthy and active lifestyle in our community. Gifts like this are one way we can bring our community back outside of Altru’s fence.”
It comes at the same time as the construction of Altru’s $475 million hospital, rising above Grand Forks’ along Columbia Road. The new facility is expected to begin seeing its first patients in early 2025 in a seven-story, 226-bed facility that will be “one of the most advanced (hospitals) in the Midwest,” Forkel told the Herald in September.
Mayor Brandon Bochenski this week praised Altru’s donation to the indoor sports center and noted the importance of amenities that promote quality of life in the city.
“We are very pleased to have Altru as a solid partner in (the city’s) commitment to improving and growing the community,” Bochenski said.
Meanwhile, Altru has a growing commitment to Devils Lake, too. In 2022, Altru joined Essentia Health, the city of Devils Lake and the Spirit Lake Nation to sign a letter of intent to work together to, possibly, create a new medical school in Devils Lake.
Forkel said donations and gifts from the community in and around Grand Forks do not affect any health care efforts in Devils Lake.
“The money we’re spending on this project is going to help the community,” he said of the proposed stadium, “and that’s why it doesn’t affect the budget for projects or capital projects.”
Among Altru’s largest donations in the past decade is a $250,000 donation to Devils Lake Public Schools, related to “sports medicine and health care,” according to Altru.