Auditorium improvements under way

Kim Fundingsland/MDN New upper level seating is in the process of being installed at the Minot Municipal Auditorium. The work is expected to be completed by mid-October.

Out with the old and in with the new. That’s what is currently taking place at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Aging seating in the auditorium’s main arena is being replaced. Workers removed the facility’s old seating last week. On Tuesday morning, they were finishing up preparation work for the installation of new seating.

“They’ll start with the new seating today,” said Scott Collins, auditorium manager, Tuesday. “I would think it would take two to three weeks. The seating project will be the same as what’s in the new MAYSA Arena.”

New seating will mean quite a change for those attending future events at the auditorium. A large section of the seats being replaced, those that were fold-up wooden chairs, are believed to be the original seats placed in the building 63 years ago. The metal seating that was in the upper levels above the wood seating has also been removed to make way for new seats. The metal seats being replaced were more than 40 years old.

“We will have all uniform seating. We will gain about five inches of leg room where the wood seats were,” said Collins. “Where the metal seats were there will be no change in leg room. That’s because of a different pitch to the concrete.”

The new seating is expected to number 2,862. Previous seating at the auditorium was believed to be 3,000, but that was a number used when some of the seating was bench-style and not actual individual seats.

The first major event to be held at the auditorium after the new seating is installed is a regional volleyball tournament in November.

In addition to the seating project workers are putting the finishing touches on new rooftop heating and cooling units at the auditorium. The new natural gas units replaced old systems that were connected to the building’s boiler.

“It is hard to cool and heat an old building properly,” said Collins. “This new system is the way to go. It will save money and be more efficient.”

Two other major upgrades to the auditorium facility are expected to get under way in January. Using money recently granted from the Community Facilities Fund, lighting fixtures in the auditorium offices and hallways will be upgraded. The lighting in the arena was upgraded a year ago.

The second major project will be the replacement of the auditorium arena tartan floor. Funding for that project was also approved through the Community Facilities Fund.