Infamous letter from Ralph Engelstad to Charles Kupchella (UND President)

Dear Chuck:

I am sorry to have to write this letter, but as a businessman, I have no choice.

Commitments were made to me by others and yourself, regarding the Sioux logo and the Sioux slogan, before I started the arena and after it had been started.

These promises have not been kept, and I, as a businessman, cannot proceed while this cloud is still hanging above me.

I do not think that you realize the amount of work and the amount of people involved to make this new arena a success, and time is running out on us to accomplish what we have to do prior to its opening, such as selling tickets, advertising, installation of equipment and many other details that no one thinks of. All of this takes time.

I understand that you are to make a decision sometime in the future, but I do not understand where one person gets the authority to make this kind of a decision on behalf of all alumni, students, the city of Grand Forks and the state of North Dakota.

We previously had shut down (construction of the arena) for approximately two months, as per your request that we didnąt do anything while you were working on the name. We took the logo and the slogan off of the Web site, and we have been trying to do our job, but we are faced with an uphill hurdle because of your indecisiveness.

I have been given the authority to use this logo and the slogan, and we have hesitated to do so in order to help you with your decision-making, but it has now come to the point that we must march forward. The only item that this logo and slogan have been used on, are the models of the arena which we sent out the first part of the week. These models were ordered many, many months ago, and are part of our advertising campaign to sell season tickets.

I figure that we must sell 10,000 tickets between now and July if we are going to fill this arena, and we need to fill this arena to make money for the UND hockey team and the athletic department.

I know what has been said in the past, and you know what has been said in the past, and if the commitments are not lived up to, then I have no reason to live up to my commitment to build an arena for the UND hockey team.

We are in the process of hiring more people to sell tickets and advertising, which does nothing to help us, but benefits UND.

Please be advised that if this logo and slogan are not approved by you no later than Friday, December 29, 2000, then you will leave me with no alternative to take the action which I think is necessary.

If the logo and slogan are not approved by the above-mentioned date, I will then write a letter on December 30, 2000, to all contractors and to everybody associated with the arena, canceling their construction contracts for the completion of the arena. I am a man of my word, and I will see to it that a settlement is made with all subcontractors, with anyone who has purchased prepaid advertising. I will refund money to all ticket holders and abandon the project. It would then be left up to you if you want to complete it, with money from wherever you may be able to find it.

I have spent, as of this time, in excess of $35 million, which I will consider a bad investment, but I will take my lumps and walk away.

As I am sure you realize, the commitment I made to the university of North Dakota was, I believe, one of the 10 largest ever made to a school of higher education, but if it is not completed, I am sure it will be the number one building never brought to completion at a school of higher education, due to your changing the logo and the slogan.

You need to think how changing this logo and slogan will affect not just the few that are urging the name change, but also how it will affect the university as a while, the students, the city of Grand forks, and the state of North Dakota.

If I walk away and abandon the project, please be advised that we will shut off all temporary heat going to this building, and I am sure that nature, through its cold weather, will completely destroy any portion of the building through frost that you might be able to salvage. I surely hoped that it would never come to this, but I guess it has.

It is a good thing that you are an educator because you are a man of indecision, and, and if you were a businessman, you would not succeed, you would be broke immediately.

Please do not consider this letter a threat in any7 manner, as it is not intended to be. It is only notification to you of exactly what I am going to do if you change this logo and this slogan.

In the event it is necessary to cancel the completion of the arena, I will then send notification to anyone who is interested, informing them of the same, and laying out to them all of the facts and all of the figures from all of the meetings that led me to make this decision.

Your lack of making a decision has hung over our heads too long, and we canąt go on with it any further.

It is your choice if you want to put hundreds of construction workers out of a job, and deprive the local businesses of Grand forks of the income they are receiving f4rom the construction of the arena.

I might also add that while I was dictating this letter, I received a call from Dean Blais (UNDąs hockey coach), who is completely fed up, and he informed me that he is possibly going to tender his resignation if the logo and the slogan are changed.

Yours truly,
Ralph Engelstad