On May 20, 2015, Watford City broke ground on an $83 million event center, marking three years of work and planning backed by a public vote to increase the city's sales tax after the Stenehjem family donated the land on which to build.
The Rough Rider Center — adjacent to the new high school project in the Fox Hills Subdivision — houses arenas for hockey, turf and hard-floor sports, a 1,000-capacity convention center, a 3,000-seat arena, plus a lap pool and swim-play facility.
It connects directly to the new high school for athletic practice, competitions and some physical education classes and houses continuing educational opportunities like TrainND, University of Mary, Williston State College, and the Small Business Development Center.
The facility helps pick up where the school left off in its efforts to accommodate a rapidly expanding enrollment, according to Brent Sanford, who said the addition means the community will be able to host destination-style events to bolster the growing hotel and restaurant businesses that do well during the week, but would welcome a weekend bump.
Sanford said the project involves a lot of synergy, with the city, the Watford City Park Board, the school board and tourism promoters working toward the same goal.
“We could do this or have five or six buildings in town. We’ve all grown out of the spaces we were in,” he said. “There were a lot of challenges and I take my hat off to the Joint Powers Agreement board that came together to build and operate this.”
The city’s growing sales tax revenue stream will pay for the project, backed by a Bank of North Dakota infrastructure-lending program, Sanford said.
Find more information by visiting: www.roughridercenter.com/