Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of North Dakota and the county seat of Grand Forks County. According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 52,838, while the total of the city and surrounding metropolitan area was 98,461. Grand Forks, along with its twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, forms the center of the Grand Forks, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is often called Greater Grand Forks or The Grand Cities.
Historically dependent on local agriculture, the city's economy now encompasses higher education, defense, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and scientific research. Grand Forks is served by Grand Forks International Airport and Grand Forks Air Force Base. The city's University of North Dakota is the oldest institution of higher education in the state. The Alerus Center and Ralph Engelstad Arena host athletic and other events, while the North Dakota Museum of Art and Chester Fritz Auditorium are the city's largest cultural venues.
Located on the western banks of the north-flowing Red River of the North, in a flat region known as the Red River Valley, the city is prone to flooding. The Red River Flood of 1997 devastated the city. The floodwaters reached over 3 miles (5 km) inland, inundating virtually everything in the community. The flood made national news. The most familiar footage is possibly of the fire that started on April 19 in downtown Grand Forks, surrounded by floodwaters, where eleven buildings and sixty apartments were destroyed.
Due at least in part to the presence of the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks offers a variety of arts and cultural events. The North Dakota Museum of Art, located on the UND campus, brings many nationally touring exhibits to Grand Forks as well as the work of regional artists. College sports are popular in Grand Forks, with an intense following for the University of North Dakota. The Grand Forks Park District, established in 1905, operates 14 neighborhood parks, 28 tennis courts, and a swimming pool. The parks include features such as playgrounds, baseball fields, softball fields, soccer fields, basketball courts, and picnic areas. In the city of Grand Forks every fork in the road leads to a good time. The Grand Forks area is home to a great mix of sports events, a vibrant arts scene, miles of biking, hiking and inline skating trails and other recreation, plus a revitalized downtown.
The University of North Dakota (UND), the oldest university and home of the only schools of medicine and law in the state, is located at Grand Forks. Enrollment is about 15,000. UND is known for its John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences which includes an Air Traffic Control Training program that in October 2009 was ranked No.1 in the nation for the second consecutive year by the FAA.
Alerus Center is an indoor arena and convention center located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The facility is owned and operated by the city of Grand Forks and opened on February 10, 2001. The arena's major tenant is the University of North Dakota football team. The arena also plays host to variety of large concerts, cultural events, sporting events, and trade shows. It can seat more than 21,000 people at one time. The convention center section of the facility includes a 26,000-square-foot ballroom and 12 meeting rooms. The convention center is used for conferences, seminars, banquets, parties, and smaller concerts. Directly adjacent to the Alerus Center is a large hotel and waterpark complex called the Canad Inns Destination Center.