Like many leagues, the NHL was forced to put its season on pause in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. A month later, the league and NHL Players Association are throwing around ideas on how to salvage the rest of the season. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, that includes possibly finishing the remainder of the 2019-20 season in North Dakota.
Several venues would be necessary for the NHL to hold the remainder of the season in North Dakota and Friedman did point out that Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks could be one of the options. It is an 11,640-seat facility that would give the NHL plenty of room to operate. It should be noted that capacity may not be too big of a deal in this scenario, because it's unclear if fans will be allowed to attend games if the league does resume play at some point this season.
Ralph Engelstad Arena does have a history of holding some big hockey events. It hosted the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18 Championships and is the home of the University of North Dakota hockey team.
Friedman wrote that nothing is imminent right now and North Dakota is one of multiple hypothetical scenarios that the league is likely discussing. And even if they did settle on a scenario in a set location, finding venues is just the first hurdle to any kind of plan to resume. The league would also need to figure out travel, hotel accommodations, and much more.
If the season does resume, both the NHL and the players would have to be in agreement on all terms -- including location.
At the time of writing, North Dakota has 207 confirmed COVID-19 cases and three people have died from the virus. Only two states -- Wyoming and Alaska -- have fewer confirmed cases.
The NHL suspended play back on March 12. They did so shortly after the NBA put their season on hold and announced that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
It's not clear what the NHL's plan is for finishing out the regular season. Several teams are within a few points of one another and obviously would've had plenty of time to catch up if the season hadn't prematurely been put on pause.