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Bemidji Regional Event Center advisory board holds first meeting

Construction updates and a discussion on a planned scoreboard were among the highlights of the first meeting of the advisory board for the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

The meetings are planned to be held biweekly at Bemidji City Hall.

The board is composed of eight individuals, all of whom were approved by the Bemidji City Council. Members are Councilors Ron Johnson and Greg Negard; Bill Maki, the vice president of finance and administration, to represent BSU; Gayle Quistgard, the VisitBemidji executive director; Ken Howe, a Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce member; City Manager John Chattin; Finance Director Ron Eischens; and Bob LeBarron, the executive director of the BREC.

Quistgard was unable to attend yesterday's inaugural meeting.

LeBarron led the meeting, which opened with a BREC construction update.

He said workers are now focused on completing the high roof, which is expected to be completed in the first or second week of January.

Construction is ahead of schedule on the interior of the facility, but is behind on the outside, he reaffirmed.

"Once the high roof gets done, they'll be pretty close to on time," LeBarron said.

Chattin said that achieving that benchmark will put overall construction ahead of schedule.

LeBarron is employed by VenuWorks, the management firm for the BREC. He said he and other VenuWorks personnel are working now toward compiling a list of fixtures, furniture and equipment for the BREC.

They are working on comparing the VenuWorks' FFE list with that previously compiled by Leo ADaly, the architectural firm for the BREC, LeBarron said.

In other topics, he mentioned the possibility of changing the design to increase a portion of the concourse. The space would come from an area designated for office space.The BREC has "an awful lot" of office space, he noted, and a wider concourse in that section would allow for more traffic flow and temporary carts.

"With more concourse space, we can get more people through there better," he said.

LeBarron said he would get details costs on changing the design in that area and present them to the advisory board for discussion at its next meeting.

Board members also discussed the plans for the main scoreboard.

A decision on the scoreboard has not been made. LeBarron said he will meet Dec. 30 with Daktronics.

Daktronics, which has an interest in bidding on the scoreboard, is not developing the bids, Chattin and LeBarron both noted.

The city will need to decide on what the BREC's needs are for the scoreboard, Chattin said. Even if it wants a four-screen video board, a decision will have to be made based on size and additional features.

LeBarron noted, too, that the number of pixels included on the scoreboard will also be up for discussion.

"That will be driven by cost and what we can afford," he said.

Booking progress

LeBarron, who started earlier this month and is now working out of Bemidji City Hall, said he has had several conversations with people interested in booking the BREC for future conferences and events.

He met recently with Bemidji Pioneer representatives to discuss the possibility of booking the facility for the Pioneer's annual Women's Expo in 2011.

He also said he is corresponding with Rotary personnel about the possibility of hosting a district meeting in Bemidji in 2012.

As for events, LeBarron said it was too early to publicize BREC prospects, but said he has made contact with several shows.

"Your family shows book up a year and a half to two years in advance," he said.