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In Fargo, vandals use huge crane to cause at least $200,000 damage to new arena

FARGO - Police are on scene at the Urban Plains Center construction site today in south Fargo after receiving a report of vandalism.

Fargo police Sgt. Jeff Skuza said authorities were notified at 7:20 a.m. of vandalism at the future $25 million hockey arena.

A patrol supervisor on scene gave a preliminary estimate of $200,000 worth of damage, but police are still investigating, Skuza said.

Vandals started up a huge crane on the floor, raised the boom and bent a beam supporting the roof.

Construction site manager Trevor Speidel said the vandals also used the crane to smash a concrete block, shattered windows and threw equipment off the roof of the Urban Plains center, punching a hole in the concrete below.

The vandalism likely happened late Sunday night or early Monday, Speidel said.

"They didn't understand the controls (of the crane)," Speidel said. "If that crane would have been a little bit farther back, they would have tore that whole beam down."

It could have created a domino effect, "and you'd probably have lost half the building," Speidel said.

Structural engineers are coming to take a closer look at the damage, he said. He expected it would delay work on the arena, which had been set to open Oct. 31.

"I would say in excess of $500,000, probably," Speidel said, referring to a preliminary damage assessment.

Police will release more information as it becomes available, Skuza said.

When finished, the UP Center's 5,000-seat main rink will house Fargo Public Schools, Fargo Shanley and the United States Hockey League's Fargo Force, led by former University of North Dakota hockey coach Dean Blais.

For more information, check back on later today.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560