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Events center: What it means for BSU hockey

BSU hockey can't wait another year, according to hockey officials who attended Wednesday's business meeting on the proposed Bemidji events center.

City Councilor Jerry Downs on Wednesday said the city is working with Bemidji State University to try to reach a lease agreement on the proposed events center. He would prefer to delay the project one year rather than continue forward without a specific proposal, Downs said.

"You can't put a square peg in a round hole," he said. "We're not going to force this project."

If questions are still unanswered by Dec. 15, Downs suggested that the project be put on hold for a year.

The response from the hockey community was clear: "If you do that, than you don't have hockey."

BSU president Jon Quistgaard has given the men's hockey program two goals to accomplish by the end of the year. First, it must work toward gaining admittance into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Secondly, he has asked the team to raise $500,000 a year for five years, or $2.5 million, to ensure the financial viability of the program.

In a meeting last week with the Bemidji City Council, Quistgaard emphasized that the university had no intention of following Wayne State University, which announced earlier this month that it would discontinue its Division I men's hockey program following this hockey season.

"We do not intend to take that path," Quistgaard said last week.

Regarding the first goal, former BSU hockey coach Bob Peters has said that the team has made good progress toward raising the needed funds and had raised $100,000 as of last week. The bulk of the remaining funds would likely be raised through the sale of suites in the new facility.

Peters said Wednesday that he recently spoke with the WCHA and the conference is supporting BSU's efforts.

The WCHA still has a moratorium on expansion in place. In the meantime, BSU is taking steps toward improving its schedule, Peters said. The team is set to play five WCHA teams in each of the next two seasons.

"There is a great deal of support coming from the WCHA," Peters said. "They do not want to see a team from the great state of Minnesota go down."