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|Ralph Engelstad Arena|
| "The Ralph"|
|Location|| One Ralph Engelstad Arena Dr |
Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203-2205
|Opened||October 5, 2001|
|Owner||Ralph Engelstad Arena|
|Surface||200' x 85' (hockey)|
|Construction cost||$104 million|
|Tenants|| North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey|
(Men's & Women's)
For the arena with the same name in Thief River Falls, Minnesota see Ralph Engelstad Arena (Minnesota).
For the pre-2001 arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota see Ralph Engelstad Arena (old).
Ralph Engelstad Arena (REA) is an indoor arena located on the campus of the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The arena is used primarily for ice sports such as hockey and was built by UND alumnus Ralph Engelstad. Some people refer to the arena as simply The Ralph.
Ralph Engelstad Arena, which seats 11,640, opened on October 5, 2001 and is located on the UND campus. The REA is used by the UND men's and women's Fighting Sioux ice hockey teams. The arena also hosts many non-athletic events including concerts and a yearly circus. The $110 million arena was built with materials that would not usually be found in such a facility. For instance, the concourses of the REA are covered in granite flooring, each spectator seat is made of cherry wood and leather upholstery, escalators bring spectators between levels, and full-color LCD displays dot the arena.
Although located within the campus of the University of North Dakota the arena and land itself is owned by The Engelstad Family Foundation and rented conditionally to UND each year for $1. This setup was created to give the Engelstad family control and final say regarding the facility.
- See also: North Dakota Fighting Sioux
Midway during construction, Ralph Engelstad threatened to withdraw his funding if UND's Fighting Sioux sports teams were renamed in deference to political pressures. In an effort to make the prospect of removal a prohibitively costly measure, the Fighting Sioux logo was strategically placed in thousands of instances in the arena, including a large granite logo in the main concourse. After the National Collegiate Athletic Association barred several universities that use Native American imagery from hosting post-season tournaments or wearing such imagery in post-season play, UND sued the NCAA. A preliminary injunction was granted that would have allowed the Fighting Sioux to both host post-season events and wear their regular uniforms while the lawsuit was in progress. The legal papers filed in support of UND pointed out that the Florida State Seminoles have not been required to change their name, thus raising the possibility that the decision regarding the UND Fighting Sioux was arbitrary and capricious. In addition, the legal papers noted that UND has a Native American Studies program, has Native Americans on its faculty, and has a significant Native American student population.
The lawsuit with the NCAA was settled under the condition that UND has three years to gain tribal support from both Sioux nations in North Dakota, or retire the Sioux name and logo. While UND supports the settlement conditions, the Ralph Engelstad Arena has declined to commit to removal of the Sioux name and logos from the arena, even if they are retired.
REA's inaugural hockey game was on October 5, 2001 and featured the Fighting Sioux men's team against the WCHA rival Minnesota Golden Gophers in the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game, in which Minnesota defeated the North Dakota, 7-5. The REA hosted the West Regional in the 2006 NCAA Men's Division I Ice Hockey Tournament, with North Dakota playing in its home building.
The REA has hosted a number of non-NCAA ice hockey events, notably the 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships with over 195,000 tickets sold. The Minnesota Wild has played several exhibition games at the arena as well.
The REA is the primary host of the North Dakota High School Activities Association State Boys' and Girls' Hockey Tournament. The winner's bracket plays their games at the REA while the loser's bracket plays at the nearby Purpur Arena, also located in Grand Forks. This event typically takes place in the last weekend of February.