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USA Wrestling says competing wrestling vendor a threat to Fargo's contract renewal

Chase Crabtree, right, of Marysville, Ohio, works at the register with customers Rhonda and Gunnar Starren, Maple Valley, Wash., during the USA Wrestling tournament Monday, July 17, 2017, at the Rudis pop up store north of the Fargodome on 19th Ave. North, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 2
The Rudis pop up store is seen Monday, July 17, 2017, north of the Fargodome on 19th Ave. North, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

FARGO—North Dakota State University and the city of Fargo has hosted the USA Wrestling tournament every year since 1993, a run that is in jeopardy when the contract is up after this year's event.

With a strong bid, Louisville, Ky., is lobbying for the tourney, said Pete Isais, director of national events for USA Wrestling.

It's not helping Fargo's cause that vendor Rudis Athletic Gear is set up across the street from the Fargodome in a large tent selling wrestling merchandise, Isais said. USA Wrestling has a contract with Athlete Performance Solutions that sells its merchandise inside the dome.

Isais said Rich Bender, the executive director of USA Wrestling, "is a little nervous about it."

"I think he's made some statements that it could affect the renewal of the contract," Isais said.

Isais said the contract with NDSU and the Fargo Convention and Visitors Bureau states it is to notify vendors in and around the Fargodome that USA Wrestling is coming to the city and to not allow them to sell their wrestling products.

But there's nothing NDSU can do legally to prevent Rudis from selling, said Jack Maughan, senior associate director of athletics for athletic department.

"We can only stress to help USA Wrestling and their partners, as this event has made a huge economic impact to Fargo for many years," he said. "We hope this does not jeopardize our great relationship with them."

Brock Manning, one of the operators of Rudis, said Monday morning, July 17, his company contracted with Burger King restaurant for use of the space. He said his company has the "right forms and policies" to go about their business.

"We're out here trying to make a name for ourselves," Manning said. "We're just trying to be a brand for wrestling so we wanted to make a presence here."

The company is based in Marysville, Ohio, and goes to a few events in the summer with the bulk of its traveling operations during the winter wrestling season, Manning said.

He said he "absolutely" expects to hear from USA Wrestling.

"They're just trying to profit off a large amount of numbers," Isais said. "At the end of the day, they see a large amount of wrestlers and families coming to town. They're a merchandiser for wrestling products, they pop in, contact the business across the street and ask if they can rent the space."

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.