It’s back for its second season. Gaze North across the valley, and you’ll notice it; it’s the giant white marshmallow-like structure near the college.
We call it the Air Supported Dome — it’s an accurate if not particularly catchy name. And from my perspective, it’s hard to imagine the community getting better bang for our local dollar in seeing it realized.
I bring up the ‘bang for buck’ because I occasionally catch grumbling about how we the citizens voted down the ‘community bowl’ concept. And indeed we did. If your Minot memory reaches back to 2008 — you may remember the conversation. At that time, the message was clear — the citizens said ‘no’ to a sales tax diversion that would have funded $9 million of the $11 million project.
Other iterations later, including another ‘no’ on the Park District’s much bigger ($87 million big) ‘MARC’ concept, and finally, a plan that was palatable took shape. In the end, it was a million dollars of Council-approved public money, a match (plus more) of private money and a maintenance and operation agreement with MSU that delivered the Air Supported Dome to Minot.
I bring up the political past because I’ve noticed a tendency toward negativity in Minot. For those that opposed the dome, they see its construction as a betrayal and a failure. But there’s another way to look at it — and that’s in the value of saying ‘no.’
The Air Supported Dome we got was not the same as the projects we considered in the past. And in the end, saying no forced leadership to deliver a community need with a more efficient, conservative plan and a smaller contribution from the public. What’s not to like about that?
And now that we have it, it’s hard to argue against the impact. Last March I got a call from a Fargo friend who was coming to Minot for the first time in ten years! The reason: a youth soccer tournament that brought more than 80 teams to Minot for a weekend. Finally, there was a youth-sports weekend that saw Minot parents enjoy the comfort of their own bed while the rest of the region came to us. Too often in all our sports, most roads lead away from Minot.
So, if you haven’t found your way inside Minot’s new dome, make it a point. And if you’re in the camp that feels betrayed — be open to having your mind change. It’s a remarkable space and an outstanding achievement for a small place like Minot.
There’s just one thing — the name, the Air Supported Dome — it needs work. We need a name that evokes of a sense of warmth in winter; we need a name that represents a reprieve from the harsh wind and cold; we need a name that speaks to both purpose and our place on the prairie. Instead of the Air Supported Dome, let’s call it The Igloo.