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City Council to consider second CSL study on events center

The Bemidji City Council is expected to discuss Monday night whether to retain Conventions, Sports and Leisure International to conduct another study on the proposed events center.

In November 2006, Wayzata-based CSL released a feasibility study on the events center, but the study then was based on a multipurpose facility that had the capacity to hold sporting events, entertainment events, conventions, conferences, exhibitions and recreation events. The proposal then also included a second sheet of practice ice for Bemidji State University hockey and a convention center.

The events center has since been scaled back. The City Council voted June 14 to move forward with a multiuse events center that would contain neither a second sheet of ice nor a convention center. That night, City Council members discussed the potential for having a second CSL study done, this time focusing on the events center as now planned.

The feasibility study released in November stated that an events center "could attract a measurable level of new spectator and convention events to the area." However, it said that without BSU hockey as the anchor tenant, the events center probably would not be possible, that the lack of a nearby hotel could negatively affect the center.

Further, it stated that the events center likely would operate at a deficit. The events center, according to the study, would generate an estimated $6 million a year in direct spending and $3.4 million a year in indirect spending - 70 percent of direct spending would come from new visitors who do not currently spend money in Bemidji.

A second feasibility study would focus on the events center as now planned - a center that would house BSU hockey and include about 10,000 square feet of events center space.

The council is scheduled to discuss the potential for an additional CSL study on the events center during its events center update during Monday night's meeting.

The City Council also is expected to set a date for a meeting with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission. Councilors in June voted to pursue an agreement with the HRDC to have the organization work as a project facilitator on the events center. This discussion also is scheduled during the events center update.

Unrelated to the events center, the council also will hold a public hearing on the vacation of an alley between Grant and McKinley avenues southeast and Third and Fourth streets southeast. First Assembly of God church would give the city a 30-foot right-of-way easement on the west side of Grant Avenue Southeast for street and utility improvements and the city would vacate the alley.