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Bemidji Regional Event Center seeks liquor license

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News Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A bill allowing liquor sales at the Bemidji Regional Event Center is poised for legislative approval.

Bemidji does not allow private liquor stores within the city limits, but does issue liquor licenses to restaurants, hotels and clubs.

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The BREC is none of those.

The state Legislature last year passed special legislation that allows a city to issue a permit to a convention center facility not withstanding any law.

City staff asked the Minnesota Department of Public Safety whether the city would be OK issuing a permit for the BREC, but the DPS said no, said City Attorney Al Felix.

The city talked with legislators, who said they believe that the special legislation for convention centers last year would cover the BREC.

The BREC is a combination convention center, event center and sports arena. Liquor is planned to be served in the event center/hockey arena and convention center areas.

Because of that, Felix said, legislators were not sure if last year's legislation would apply.

"That's a gray area," he said. "They agreed and are getting special legislation for Bemidji to issue a license for the BREC."

The legislation is included in the liquor omnibus bill. Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, said the bill has moved out of committee in then House of Representatives.

Mayor Richard Lehmann and Bob LeBarron, the executive director of the BREC, have both recently testified to the House and Senate commerce committees on the bill.

"We're not expecting any complications," Persell said.

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Bethany Wesley
(218) 333-9200 x337
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