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Facilities boost Minot’s economy

Park district’s economic study shows $48.7 million impact

Zoo visitors watch as a tiger enjoys its new habitat in Roosevelt Park Zoo last summer. Eloise Ogden/MDN

A recently released economic impact study for the Minot Park District shows park facilities had more than a $48.7 million economic impact on the Minot community in 2019.

The park board commissioned a Minot State University study to look at economic impact – the first study of its kind since a more limited scope study in 2011, when many facilities were closed due to the flood.

The 2019 report showed for every dollar spent in taxes to support the park district, facilities and activities returned $5.33 to the economy.

The biggest bang for the buck came from Roosevelt Park Zoo, which showed a $16.13 million impact. Ron Merritt, executive director for the park district, explained major construction projects for lion and tiger exhibits contributed to the huge impact.

MAYSA Arena brought $8.69 million in overall impact, while Minot’s ball diamonds accounted for $5 million. Golf courses and Minot Municipal Auditorium each brought more than $2 million in impact, the soccer facility added $1.6 million, Roosevelt Park Pool $442,309 and tennis facilities $397,511.

The economic impact figures reflect how money is multiplied in the community as visitors take in other activities and patronize businesses while in Minot. The report looked at direct impacts as well. They were:

– Direct spending by the park districts on operations and capital expenses averaged about $15.1 million from 2014 to 2019 and totalled $19.65 million in 2019. It is projected to reach $35 million by 2025.

– Spending by the park district and by external user groups on operations, as well as admissions and concessions, averaged $19.6 million from 2014 to 2019 and reached $24.8 million in 2019. It is projected to reach $40 million by 2025.

– Spending by the park district, external groups and visitors averaged $26.1 million from 2014 and 2019 and reached $32.8 million in 2019. It is projected to fall just under $50 million by 2025.

– Total economic impact from operations, capital projects and visitors, with applied economic multipliers, averaged $38.77 million from 2014 to 2019 and was $48.7 million in 2019. It is projected to reach $75 million by 2025.

– Tax revenues to support the park district in 2019 were about $9 million.

The study by Stai, Bertsch & Ondracek included the auditorium, MAYSA Arena, North and South Hill Softball Complexes, Jack Hoeven Baseball Complex, Corbett Field, Hammond Tennis Complex, Cameron Indoor Tennis Center, Souris Valley Golf Course, Jack Hoeven Wee Links, Roosevelt Park Pool, Roosevelt Park Zoo and North Hill Soccer Complex.

“We used 2019 because 2020 wasn’t a normal year,” Parks Director Ron Merritt said, referring to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, 2020 figures, while down from 2019 for most facilities, trended with 2018 numbers in overall economic impact. The construction of a pool slide in 2020 spiked economic impact generated by the pool. The zoo saw record attendance in 2020, and the Souris Valley Golf Course had one of its best participation years ever.

Merritt said overall revenue for the park district was down only about $60,000 from 2020 projections.

Local residents who chose not to travel during the pandemic spent more time in their community backyard, said Elly DesLauriers, director of marketing and development for the park district.

“They really were utilizing things in our community probably more so than they had in the past,” she said.

The study also projected future economic impact in contemplating potential new facilities being explored in the early stages of the park district’s master planning. Those include renovations at the auditorium, a proposed indoor field house and a proposed fourth sheet of ice at MAYSA Arena. For 2021, the study forecasts overall economic impact to be close to that of 2019. Some improvements are expected at the South Hill Complex, particularly if fundraising enables a proposed concessions/press box/restroom building to proceed. Golf course impact also is expected to rise further in 2021 with the reopening of Wee Links following flood control work.

Merritt said commissioning the economic impact study, which cost about $68,000, was imperative as the park district moved forward with its master planning. As that planning process continues, there will be opportunities for the public to share opinions through public forums. Emails and phone calls also are welcomed anytime, Merritt said.

Merritt said the plan is to keep the economic impact data up to date in years ahead. The data can be useful in estimating the economic impact of any new facilities or in hosting a tournament, he said. The information can help in decision making about projects and give taxpayers a better idea of how well their tax dollars are working for them, he added. For instance, the Roosevelt Park Pool loses money when considered from a cost-revenue basis, but it is a benefit to the community when its economic impact is included.

DesLauriers said community donations are a major source of revenue, and having economic data to show potential donors can help them make decisions about their gifts.

“Not only do they know they are putting quality of life into the community but there’s a return on investment,” she said.

The park district will be posting the economic study report on its website at minotparks.com once it becomes electronically available.

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