A dream years in the making is moving closer to reality.
An agreement is now in place for the Anoka Ramsey Athletic Association to open a new dome by the end of the year, one expected to be the largest in the continental United States.
“It was a longtime conversation about a need for space for our association, a longtime conversation about a need for space for our community,” ARAA president Dustin Reeder said. “As the need became even more great and after we had some space constraints, we began evaluating needs. In August 2021, we had a meeting with an outside person to explore building a dome.”
ARAA has signed a purchase agreement for land in downtown Ramsey and is now working on design plans and land layout. Contingent on the supply chain, the dome is projected to open in November.
“We are very much in the process of planning and design, but so far we walked through with a design firm what all is needed for our 10 sports for space needs,” Reeder said. “We dreamt about what that would provide the youth in our community, access to a premier facility. We took the concept drawing and plans to our entire board to receive feedback and made adjustments based on the feedback.”
With the ARAA offering a plethora of activities, the goal was to have a big enough facility to house them all, while still being able to expand down the road.
“Our main goal was to ensure we had enough practice, game and tournament space for our association, leaving room to grow. The secondary goal was to have a space to help make our community better through bringing groups and teams from out of our area to run clinics, run camps and bring in additional revenue to the dome and community businesses through dome rental, eating out, staying in hotels and shopping.”
The current largest non-professional sport stadium dome in the U.S. is believed to be “The Dome” in Anchorage, Alaska. The ARAA dome will come close, but will likely take the top spot in the lower 48 states.
“Based on the need for our sports and surrounding communities’ needs, we could have benefited from having a dome the exact size, but the land would not allow that,” Reeder said. “However, we are confident the dome we are building will provide sufficient space.”
Among the activities planned to take place in the dome are youth sports, practices, games, tournaments, high school sports, NCAA sports, weight lifting, camps, clinics, tutoring for Anoka/Ramsey students, wedding fairs, craft fairs, outdoor fairs, conditioning, community walking, birthday parties and corporate events. Just to name a few.
“If you can dream it, you can do it,” Reeder said.
ARAA expects its registration fees for activities to remain around current levels with the construction of the new dome.
“With the support of our community, our charitable gambling locations have been doing well, which provides us a starting point for funds,” Reeder said. “We currently pay for our rental space, and we can adjust some of that spending to the dome, and rental revenue from the dome. After the dome is up and running, based on some of these items and others, the dome will be fiscally self-sufficient.
“This is very exciting for our entire ARAA community. Our fully volunteer board invests so much time into our athletes, and to be able to provide our athletes with the best of opportunities is inspiring for our work. We believe deeply in providing access to youth sports for all of the youth in our community. Annually, we host a fundraising dinner so we can provide 50% to 100% registration discounts to families who would not be able to afford sports otherwise. Having a space where we can begin adding opportunities to our community, like tutoring, is very exciting, and the fact that by building this dome we are making our entire community better is highly motivating.”