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Hockey Day is coming to Bemidji; 13th annual event set for winter 2019

Design team presents very preliminary schematic designs for events center

The 10,000 square feet that was to be included for events center space in the proposed Bemidji events center have been removed, at least temporarily.

The design team, led by Manos Ginis, the principal director of design at Leo A. Daly, presented "very, very preliminary" schematic designs to the Bemidji City Council on Monday.

"It is a fine balance what we built and how much of it," Ginis said.

The 10,000 square feet of events center space, or meeting rooms, was removed from plans to accommodate more suites for Bemidji State University hockey. If, due to costs or other considerations, the suites need to be cut down in number, the events center space could be restored, he said.

While the City Council previously voiced support for having a facility with three components -- an events center/arena, a second sheet of ice and a convention center --the City Council now is supporting a $50 million facility, which would encompass an events center that also would house BSU hockey. One-half of the funding for the project would come from the city's half-cent sales tax. If approved by the state Legislature, the remaining $25 million would come from the state.

The schematic designs were presented in stages. The first stage is the events center/arena, which is now being considered. The building would be located east of Irvine Avenue and south of Third Street adjacent to the railroad corridor. Parking would be constructed in four lots along the rail line.

While the schematic designs did indicate a primary choice for a site, there was discussion about a second possible site. Ginis said the overall plans could be tweaked to fit into a secondary location.

The designs for the first phase, or the events center/arena, were made while keeping two directives in mind from the City Council, Ginis said. The first is that the facility's cost has a cap of $50 million. The second allowed for the possible addition of the other two pieces -- a second sheet of ice and a convention center -- at a later date.

While the City Council supports the expense of $50 million toward an events center, it was stressed on Monday that the actual building itself will not cost $50 million. A large chunk of that money will go toward acquiring real estate and expanding or modifying existing infrastructure. Other costs may be needed to clean up potentially contaminated land, Ginis said.

"(The project has) all these extra ordinary costs that are not part of the building costs," he said.

No exact figures are yet known for either property acquisition or construction. Preliminary figures have been discussed, and once plans are cemented, Ginis said the design team will be able to get more precise figures.

In the meantime, as costs rise each month due to inflation, designers are now working to keep the project at a present-day cost of about $45 million, he said.

"Our hope is to go into the construction phase with at least a 5 percent (contingency)," Ginis said.

The long-term "dream" also was presented during Monday's meeting.

The long-term hope would be that the other two pieces of the complex would be added, and a parking ramp would be built to the west of the facility. To the east, just south of Second Street, a hotel may someday be built and retail shops would be developed. The entire area south of First Street would be turned into a greenway and a park. In the middle of the park would be a new building for the Headwaters Science Center.

But those plans are currently a long-range plan for the future of Bemidji's downtown.

Events center/arena

The events center/arena building would have three levels and be set up as a large bowl.

On the bottom, or the main floor, there will be a hockey rink, which could be converted to host a concert or trade show. Also planned for the main floor are locker rooms, administrative offices, a weight room and storage space. It also includes room for about 50 to 100 fans who would want to stand while watching the hockey game.

The second floor is where people will enter the facility on a corridor-type level. Two entrances are planned. The first is off of Third Street, at which fans or participants would walk directly onto the corridor. The other entrance would be on the east side of the building. Here, those entering the building would walk up a flight up stairs to reach the main walkway. From there, users would walk down toward to rink to find their seats. The corridor would be lined with refreshment stands and restrooms.

The third floor would contain suites and part of a clubhouse. BSU, Ginis said, requested 30 suites, but there now is the potential for 25.

"They feel very comfortable that they will have all the suites leased," Ginis said.

Suites, he explained, bring in revenue as they are privately leased for the year by businesses or fans. Suites generally accommodate about 10 to 12 people and have their own refreshments.

Also planned is club seating, which would include a clubhouse. The clubhouse would probably cover the northern end of the arena and include space on the second and third floors, Ginis said. One might enter on the second floor, have a beverage or use the restroom and then go up to the third floor to watch the game.

BSU Athletic Director Rick Goeb said club seating is luxury-type seating for up to about 200 people. They have their own bar and opportunities for food and get a great view of the arena, he said.

Ginis stressed that the design team has worked to make sure all of the seating in the facility provides a clear view of the hockey rink.

"We've worked very hard to make this thing very intimate," he said.

The events center/arena would be partially below ground, which is why those walking into the facility from Third Street will immediately enter the second floor.

The facility itself would be constructed using brick, metal paneling and glass, Ginis said.

"We can actually make a very handsome building using those materials," he said.

Community center?

Lisa Boulay, a Bemidji resident who attended Monday's work session to ask questions and get more information, asked where the community center was in the plans for an events center/convention center. Boulay said Bemidji residents stated that they wanted a community center in the city during public forums held earlier in the planning.

"A community center hasn't really been incorporated," Mayor Richard Lehmann said.

The group did discuss the possibility of having the weight room open to the public and possibly opening the facility to walkers on the second floor -- but to do so would increase costs and decrease revenue, Ginis said.