Minot, ND is growing at a heart-palpitating pace thanks to the oil boom at the Bakken shale formation. Even with the recent dip in oil prices, the community has struggled to keep pace with demands. Now, as oil prices gain some traction, the community is poised to watch the growth return, and the Minot International Airport is ready to support that growth.
In September 2013, in response to the passenger boom, Minot International Airport broke ground on a massive expansion project, growing from a 2-gate, 30,000-square-foot airport, to a 6-gate, 124,000-square-foot airport. The new terminal opened on Leap Day, 2016, and offers state-of-the-art passenger amenities, including a children’s play area.
“We knew that there wasn’t another airport in the state with a designated play area,” says Maria Romanick, Airport Services Coordinator. “So, we said, ‘Let’s be the first!’”
They hired PLAYTIME, LLC to design, manufacture and install the play area in the new Minot International Airport terminal.
But the play area’s story mimics that of the Minot community: there was a sponsor lined up to pay for the play area but when oil prices dropped, the sponsor had to pull out. Undaunted, airport executives went on a hunt for more sponsors, right at the height of the new terminal’s construction.
“Andy [Solsvig, the former airport director] and I went out and gave presentation after presentation, showing drawings of what the play area could be,” recalls Romanick. “We reminded people that the airport would be around a long time and that sponsoring a play area would be good for the community and good for their companies, since everyone flying in and out would see the play area.”
Ultimately, the airport was able to secure not one, not two, but eight sponsors! They include: Trinity Healthcare Solutions, Hess Corporation, KLJ Engineering, Graham Construction, the Minot Area Community Foundation, LM Armstrong/Bridgeford Construction, Enbridge, and Strata Corporation.
Thanks to their generosity, the airport was ready to move forward with a new play area. It was Romanick’s job to make sure that each sponsor got what they expected out of their sponsorship, from logos on the wall outside the play area to fully customized, branded play pieces. She and PLAYTIME worked hand-in-hand to keep the project moving forward as they also made sure sponsors were happy.
“Some of the sponsors wanted to sponsor an entire play piece, some just wanted their logo on the play area,” says Romanick. “For example, Trinity wanted a customized helicopter with their colors, their logo and even the actual tail number from their real helicopter.”
Romanick worked with PLAYTIME to achieve each sponsor’s goals.
“PLAYTIME was great! They were so good about every change and they wanted to get it right as badly as I did.”
According to Ann Thorvik, Interim Airport Director, the play area also honors the resiliency of the Minot community. In 2011, there was a devastating flood and the city is still recovering. HUD has encouraged the city and its communities to find ways to build in more resiliency to their structures and systems so that, in the event of another flood, the damage will be less severe.
That resiliency campaign has been themed, “Power, Provide, Protect.”
“We thought it would be perfect to honor that campaign with the name of our play area, so we named it, ‘The MOT Power Play,’” says Thorvik. (MOT is the airport code for Minot International Airport.)
The play area includes the Trinity helicopter flying overhead, an oil rig with Hess’s company colors, a Strata-branded train, a B-52 bomber in honor of the nearby Air Force Base, and other play elements.
“People love it,” says Thorvik. “It has added a lot to our airport!”