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Bemidji Regional Event Center: 'Excited' LeBarron prepares for Bemidji move

Bob LeBarron, the newly hired executive director of the Bemidji Regional Event Center, can't wait to come to Bemidji.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity," LeBarron told the Pioneer in a phone interview Tuesday. "I'm really excited about the town."

While he was in Bemidji for his interview for the BREC position, LeBarron said he drove around town and especially spent time talking to all the people he ran into.

"It really is the kind of town I want to live in," LeBarron said.

LeBarron's first day as BREC director is expected to be Dec. 1.

"It's a good project," he said. "I think it could really be a very successful facility."

LeBarron was the unanimous choice for the BREC position of five finalists interviewed.

He will come to Bemidji from his current position as associate director of the event center at San José State University, a job he has held since 2007.

At the San José State University event center, LeBarron oversees the operations of a 7,000-seat facility, manages contracts and leads nearly 50 staff members.

But he doesn't get to book the events.

LeBarron said the difference between San José and Bemidji are similar to those between and actor and director.

"An actor plays the role while the director determines the way the movie turns out," he said.

LeBarron himself was in charge of booking and scheduling at previous facilities he managed, including the William D. Mullins Memorial Center at the University of Massachusetts and Whittemore Center Arena at the University of New Hampshire.

LeBarron will be an employee of VenuWorks, the firm contracted by the city of Bemidji for BREC management.

During its review of LeBarron, VenuWorks noted that he has "extensive experience in working with national promoters" for events.

One of the reasons the Bemidji job appealed to him, LeBarron said, was because of the BSU hockey team and its upcoming admittance into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, one of the premier hockey conferences.

Even moreso, though, LeBarron said, was that he would oversee the opening of the brand new BREC.

"It is a chance to open a building, the opportunity to make a mark and open a new venue," he said. "I think it's going to be a great asset to the community."

Personally, he also will be able to live closer to family members in Rochester, Minn.

Midwesterners are great, LeBarron said, saying that he is looking forward to a different lifestyle and atmosphere.

"Smaller towns really appeal to me," he said.

LeBarron is coming to Bemidji this weekend to begin considering housing options.

He hopes this Bemidji trip is a bit less eventful than his first.

He was flying to Bemidji for his BREC interview last month when he got to the airport at 5:30 a.m. and was told his itinerary had been changed. Initially, he was told he could take a flight the following day, but he would have missed his interview.

He was ultimately able to take his first flight to Minneapolis, but was facing a nine-hour layover in the Twin Cities.

He called VenuWorks personnel, who said they were driving from Iowa through Minneapolis on their way to Bemidji. They met him at the airport and brought him to Bemidji.