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Alerus Center earns big profit in October

The Alerus Center in Grand Forks earned over $250,000 for the month of October alone. (John Stennes/Grand Forks Herald)

GRAND FORKS -- Grand Forks' Alerus Center earned a hefty profit in October that cut the year's losses up to that point by more than half.

Executive Director Steve Hyman, who earlier projected a loss of $123,000 by the end of the year, said he's now hopeful the actual losses will be much smaller.

November has so far been good and he has high hopes for December, he said -- if it

doesn't snow a ton and send snow-removal costs through the roof. That happened last year, he said.

The $271,000 the Alerus Center netted in October was the most it has earned in any month, Hyman said.

That's a very good thing because the events center entered October $508,000 in the red. Now, it's in the red by $237,200, which includes the $96,600 loss from the September Britney Spears concert.

What made October extraordinary, Hyman said, was four UND home football games, the Larry the Cable Guy show and several conferences. He said he thinks this past weekend's Trans-Siberian Orchestra show, which had the biggest attendance it's had in Grand Forks, will boost November numbers.

Unlike big concerts, such as Spears, smaller events such as Larry the Cable Guy and Trans-Siberian Orchestra tend to earn money for the Alerus Center because they cost less and generate plenty of concession sales and parking fees.

Ideally, Hyman said there'd be a good mix of both, the big shows for the economic impact generated by big crowds and the smaller ones for profits. But, he said, he's at the mercy of the concert industry.

In October, attendance shot up to 56,000, which is a significant improvement over Octobers the past four years. Last year, October attendance was 38,800.

Because attendance determines economic impact, the events center estimated it added $227,900 in sales taxes to the city coffers both in what its visitors spent and what the center itself paid. That's more than a third of the total sales taxes it estimated it had generated in the year to date, $632,900.