North Dakota gets odd gift

By Brian Schultz
The defending NCAA hockey champs will have a unique feature for their new arena when it opens next year. That feature, thanks to Las Vegas tycoon and UND alumni Ralph Engelstad, is a 26 feet long, 19 foot high organ. Engelstad gave the school $100 million for a new 12,000-seat arena to be built on campus and now he has donated the organ. The instrument dates to the 1920s and is made in the Art Deco style — detailed with pillars and bright colors. It’s not a pipe organ. It’s a dance organ. Dance organs were once called fair organs because they were popular during turn-of-the-century fairs and carnivals. The organs later became popular in European dance — hence the name dance organ. But, much like player pianos, dance organs play programmed music, which Engelstad and UND can program for their needs. Some of the musical instruments in the device are flutes, drums and accordions. Engelstad had it refurbished by prisoners participating in a program in Nevada to help train inmates in a trade. contractors don’t plan to install the refurbished organ until the arena is almost complete, in about a year. At that time, the contractors will install it in the arena’s Fighting Sioux Club. It will overlook Engelstad’s bowl-shaped arena and will be visible from most seats. People can also view it in the club. No other arena in teh country has such an organ.

With a state-of-the-art arena, luxury locker rooms, weight rooms, and now an antique organ, Dean Blais has one of the best recruiting tools in all of college hockey…Ralph Engelstad.