Alerus Center

The Alerus Center is an indoor arena and convention center located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The facility is owned and operated by the city of Grand Forks and opened on February 10, 2001. The arena's major tenant is the University of North Dakota football team. The arena also plays host to many large concerts, sporting events, and trade shows. It can seat more than 21,000 people at one time. The convention center section of the facility includes a 26,000-square-foot (2,400 m2) ballroom and 12 meeting rooms. The convention center is used for conferences, seminars, banquets, parties, and smaller concerts. Directly adjacent to the Alerus Center is a large hotel and waterpark complex called the Canad Inns Destination Center.

Alerus Center
Former namesAurora Events Center (pre-construction)
Location1200 S 42nd St
Grand Forks, ND 58201-3733
OwnerCity of Grand Forks
Field sizeOverall square footage: 447,000
Ballroom square footage: 26,000
Arena floor dimensions:
415' north to south
240' east to west
Broke groundJuly 15, 1998[2]
OpenedFebruary 10, 2001
Construction cost$80 million
($123 million in 2018 dollars[3])
ArchitectEllerbe Becket
JLG Architects
Schoen & Associates
Structural engineerSimpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc.[4]
Services engineerObermiller Nelson Engineering, Inc.[5]
General contractorMortenson Construction[6]
North Dakota Fighting Hawks football (NCAA) (2001-present)

Alerus Center is named after a local financial institution, Alerus Financial, which purchased the building's naming rights. Prior to opening, the facility had been referred to as the Aurora Events Center.


After attempts going back to 1984 to fund expansion of the downtown civic center or construction of a new convention center (1992), in 1995 a vote to increase the local sales tax to build a new events center (dubbed The Aurora Events Center, costing $43 to $49 million) passed with 60% approval. Cost overruns required another vote in 1996 on an events center to cost $57 million which passed with 51% approval.

The Flood of 1997 delayed the project and led to redesigns to make the facility less susceptible to future flooding. Compass Management was hired to manage facility and in 2000 Aurora was renamed Alerus Center after Alerus Financial bought naming rights for a period of 20 years. Alerus Center opened on February 10, 2001 with a final cost of $80 million. In 2006 construction started on Canad Inns hotel tower and water park, and was completed in 2007.

In 2007, the city ended its management contract with Compass Management but the same year rehired Compass Management, now renamed VenuWorks, with the provision they won't be paid if they lose taxpayer money. In 2009 Alerus Commission announced they lost $720,000 in the events fund due to Alerus operations. No accounting of that loss is made available to the public.

In July 2017, Spectra came in to take over the management contract for the Alerus Center.[7]

Notable events


Date Artist Opening act(s) Tour / Concert name Attendance Notes
February 17, 2001 Backstreet Boys Black & Blue Tour
September 28, 2002CherCyndi LauperLiving Proof: The Farewell Tour19,351 / 19,351This concert was the largest [single night] audience the artist has performed for during her solo career.[8] Also, it is also the second largest event ever held at the arena.[9]
August 19, 2003 Fleetwood Mac Say You Will Tour
March 26, 2004 Barenaked Ladies Howie Day
Butterfly Boucher
Everywhere for Everyone Tour
April 8, 2005 Mötley Crüe Red, White & Crüe ... Better Live Than Dead
August 23, 2006 Cirque du Soleil Delirium
July 24, 2007 Nickelback All the Right Reasons Tour
November 22, 2008 Neil Diamond Neil Diamond: Live in Concert
September 12, 2009 Britney Spears The Circus Starring Britney Spears
May 17, 2011 Tim McGraw Southern Voice Tour
February 16, 2013 George Strait Martina McBride The Cowboy Rides Away Tour The largest event ever held at the arena.
My 8, 2015 Luke Bryan Randy Houser
Dustin Lynch
Kick the Dust Up Tour
June 5, 2015 Eagles History of the Eagles – Live in Concert
January 28, 2016 Jason Aldean Thomas Rhett
A Thousand Horses
We Were Here Tour
September 8, 2018 Metallica Jim Breuer WorldWired Tour16,970[10]

Other events

Other events have also been held at Alerus Center including WWE Smackdown and the 2008 North Dakota Democratic-NPL Convention featuring presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton speaking.[11]


Grand Forks is unique because it is a relatively small market with two major event centers, Alerus Center and the Ralph Engelstad Arena, both of which often bid to host the same events. To a lesser extent, the Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks also sometimes competes for these same events as well. Regionally, the Fargodome in nearby Fargo, North Dakota and the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba are seen as competitors to Alerus Center.

Canad Inns Destination Center

Located directly north of Alerus Center sits the Canad Inns Destination Center, completed in 2007.[12] This $50 million complex, also designed by JLG Architects, is anchored by a 201-room, 13-story hotel tower which, at 126 feet (38 m), is the tallest building in Grand Forks and the tallest building constructed in North Dakota since the mid-1980s.[13] The Destination Center also includes the largest waterpark in the state, three restaurants, a "boutique" casino, and an arcade. This was the first facility in the United States for the Canadian hotel chain.[14]

See also


  1. "Alerus Center". University of North Dakota. Archived from the original on 2015-01-05. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  2. "The Aurora Begins". Grand Forks Herald. July 16, 1998.
  3. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  4. "Aurora Events Center". Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  5. "Sports Facilities". Obermiller Nelson Engineering, Inc. Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  6. "Sports and Event Centers". Mortensen Construction. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  7. "After deficit year, Alerus Center poised to make a profit". Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  8. "The Cher concert: you're kidding…Right?". Dakota Student. University of North Dakota. October 4, 2002. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  9. "The Cher Concert". Dakota Student. October 4, 2002. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved September 17, 2005.
  10. Pamela Knudson (2018-09-12). "Alerus releases attendance numbers for Metallica concert". Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  11. Haga, Chuck (April 5, 2008). "Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Bring Close Contest to N.D." Grand Forks Herald. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
  12. "Canad Inns Destination Center Grand Forks". Canad Inns. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  13. "Canad Inns Destination Center". Emporis. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
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