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Superior Dome To Become Part Of State Authority

Dear NMU Faculty and Staff,

At the last university forum, Mike Roy and I shared our effort to examine how we might reduce our square footage. Examples included leasing space to outside entities in facilities such as the University Center and the Jacobetti Complex. Such a move would enable us to reallocate significant dollars to other functions of the university and reduce our appropriation per FYES (Fiscal Year Equated Student).

An innovative strategy explored by NMU and state legislators is for the legislature to create a state authority in the Upper Peninsula that may include the Superior Dome in the future. Word from Lansing is that a bill to this effect has been introduced this week. Legislative support for this idea has been bipartisan and well received as a way for NMU to reduce our per FYES costs. The NMU Board of Trustees is also supportive of this initiative.

Right now, the proposed legislation does not specifically include the Dome; it just allows for the creation of a state authority in the area. The proposal does include a permanent seat for the NMU president on the authority board.

So what does all this mean? Right now, it means if the legislation is passed a state authority will exist, and we assume in the not-too-distant future the authority board will propose taking the Superior Dome under its domain. We also expect (and hope) that NMU will be named the management agent of the Dome, so the university and the public will see little change in day-to-day operations. Financially, however, the Dome, including its maintenance and repair costs, will be the responsibility of the State of Michigan, and not NMU.

What are the other benefit to NMU of this happening? Northern will be able to reduce its appropriation per FYES significantly. Rather than being noticeably above the average, this will drop us closer to the average. Why is the state interested in having the Dome under a state authority? The legislators recognize that the Superior Dome currently functions as much as a regional events center as it does a university facility. In fact, the Dome can easily be considered the U.P.'s conference center as it is the single largest events facility in the U.P. Every region in the state has such a facility; the Dome is ours.

Since this idea has turned into proposed legislation that is moving quickly through the ranks in Lansing, I wanted to make sure that you, as a valued member of the NMU community, have all the same details that I have at this time. Please keep in mind that this is the beginning of what will be a long process. There will be many details to iron out as we proceed. I will keep you updated as new information becomes available.

Les Wong, NMU President

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