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Major Bemidji events center meeting scheduled tonight
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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Neither the city nor Bemidji State University has, to date, defined its level of commitment to the events center project.

But, the breadth of their dedication will finally be revealed during a 5:30 p.m. meeting today.

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Representatives from the project team - city staff members, Headwaters Regional Development Commission employees and Bemidji State University representatives - are expected to present three key components of the events center proposal that, as of Wednesday, have not been revealed.

The Bemidji City Council will be presented with a framework for a potential lease agreement with BSU, a funding plan for developing the facility and a strategy for meeting operations and maintenance. Both funding plans were developed without affecting residents' property taxes, according to council materials.

"The general idea was to put something in front of the council and have them say, 'Yeah, this is our goal,'" said City Manager John Chattin, a member of the project team.

The council has capped the cost of the events center at $50 million. The Legislature this coming session has been asked to extend the half-cent sales tax in the city to pay for one-half of the cost. Additionally, the city has requested the other half of the cost to come from state bonding dollars.

The design team has planned for three components of a facility, which would include a hockey arena/events center, convention center and a second sheet of ice that could double as addition convention center space.

However, the cost to construct all three pieces on the south shore of Lake Bemidji has been estimated at $48.83 million in 2007 dollars, or $55.4 million in 2009 dollars. Those figures do not include funds for land acquisition, demolition or other associated costs.

The specifics of what will be presented to the council for consideration are still being determined. Chattin said the project team is meeting at 9:30 a.m. today to identify the specific outcomes it is seeking from the council.

It was expected as of Wednesday evening that all three components - a memorandum of agreement with BSU, funding options for constructing the facility and a strategy for meeting operations and maintenance - would all be considered. In fact, at an open house Wednesday night at City Hall, placards were displayed that announced that a resolution had been made on all three matters.

Chattin said the numbers that will be presented to the council are the project team's "best guesstimates" at this time. A feasibility study, being conducted by Conventions, Sports & Leisure, is not yet complete and is not expected for at least another month.

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