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Events center on City Council agenda

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Monday may prove to be a key date for the events center project -or maybe not.

The council is not scheduled to take any action on the events center during the 7 p.m. regular City Council meeting, but events from the last two weeks could spur a spirited discussion.

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The Headwaters Regional Development Commission, which recently has stated its intent to terminate its contract as project coordinator for the events center, is scheduled to offer its regular update on its work on the project during the meeting.

The business community has also requested to be placed on the agenda at that time to address the council in an effort to show its support for the project - and also ask the council to hire a consultant.

But the council will not receive an update on proposals presented during a closed-door meeting Friday with city, Bemidji State and HRDC officials, plus Assistant House Majority Leader Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, and Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji.

The group is keeping silent about those proposals, asking the public for a week to give it time to analyze them, said Moe, who was appointed spokesman for the group. "The proposals (Friday) won't be available for the City Council that day," he said.

The HRDC originally asked the council to consider hiring St. Cloud attorney Brian Schoenborn to act as both a consultant and mediator. Schoenborn works with the law firm Leonard, Street and Deinard, which has offered representation for teams such as the Minnesota Wild, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Twins. Schoenborn also co-owns the Sioux Falls Stampede and Des Moines Buccaneers in the United States Hockey League.

The council never acted on the HRDC's proposal. The business community is expected on Monday to ask the council to act quickly to secure a consultant/mediator who can both offer insight on operations and maintenance and also work with the city of Bemidji and Bemidji State University on a lease agreement.

The convention center-events center-hockey arena would be anchored by BSU's NCAA Division I hockey program.

Moe wants a Dec. 15 deadline for the pieces to come together, as he and Olson need a unified package to take to the 2008 Legislature. As envisioned, the $50 million events center will need $22 million in state bonding and legislative authority to extend the city's half-cent sales tax to pay for the city's share of construction.

Closed meeting

The City Council is expected to conclude the evening with a closed meeting to discuss real estate acquisition as the Bemidji Economic Development Authority.

Action is not expected to be taken.

Pioneer Political Editor Brad Swenson contributed to this report.

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