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Bemidji City Council OK's BREC director

Robert LeBarron has accepted the job as the executive director of the Bemidji Regional Event Center, City Manager John Chattin said Monday.

LeBarron was the unanimous preferred candidate of five interviewed by the city's interview committee.

The Bemidji City Council Monday evening approved the hiring of LeBarron and up to $15,000 in relocation costs, although they are expected to be lower than that, according to council documents.

"(LeBarron) was heads and shoulders above the other (applicants)," said Councilor Ron Johnson.

The council voted 6-1 in favor of LeBarron's hiring. Councilor Barb Meuers was opposed.

VenuWorks, the firm contracted by the city to manage the BREC, has completed background and reference checks on LeBarron.

LeBarron will be an employee of VenuWorks. However, the city of Bemidji had "the right to participate in, and approve of, the recruitment, interviewing and hiring of the executive director of the (BREC)," according to the management contract between the city and VenuWorks.

Chattin said LeBarron will initially be in Houston with VenuWorks and then is expected to be in Bemidji by about Dec. 1.

"It will be good to have him here," Chattin said.

LeBarron will work out of an office at City Hall when he does arrive in Bemidji, Chattin said.

Depending on how quickly additional staff is hired, Chattin said the BREC management team will work out of City Hall until the staff outgrows the available space.

LeBarron is currently the associate director of the event center at San José State University in California, a position he has held since 2007, according to his résumé.

The SJSU event center holds 4,600 people for basketball and more than 6,500 people for concerts, according to its Web site. It has hosted concerts by performers such as Bruce Springsteen and Faith Hill, and also hosts the SJSU men's and women's basketball games.

LeBarron also has ice experience, noted Councilor Roger Hellquist.

LeBarron previously was the general manager of the William D. Mullins Memorial Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. The facility, which seats 10,500 people, hosted the Minutemen Division I men's and women's hockey teams. The facility also hosts the university's basketball games.