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Fans get look inside BREC for BSU Hockey Select-A-Seat Night

John Martens sits in one of his Bemidji State hockey season-ticket seats inside the Bemidji Regional Event Center arena during Tuesday night's Select-A-Seat Night event. It was the first night the facility was open to the public. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

John Martens sat in his green seat perched above the visiting blue line in the Bemidji Regional Event Center arena Tuesday night and looked out at the new home of Bemidji State hockey.

"I think I've got the best seat in the house," Martens said, pointing to the corners of the illuminated rink. "I can see everything right here."

Martens was one of a steady stream of visitors who came out to see the BREC at the Select-A-Seat Night hockey season-ticket sales event hosted by Bemidji State University. It was the first time the BREC was open to the public.

Though most of the concourse area was blocked off with red tape, the arena interior was open for exploration. Some snapped photos with their cameras, some took tours of the club level and some were busy checking out the marked seats available for purchase.

Like trying out a new recliner at a furniture store, prospective buyers were looking to find the best seat available in their price range. Seats were available in most areas of the arena and Beaver Pride Coordinator Jake Bluhm estimated around 100 season tickets sold Tuesday night.

Martens sat in one of the four season ticket seats he purchased in April for himself, his wife Chelley and their two boys; nine-year-old Kyle and six-year-old Evan.

This is Martens' first year of owning BSU season tickets. He used several visits to North Dakota hockey games at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks as a way to decide where he wanted tickets at the BREC.

"I scoured the Ralph, much to the embarrassment of my wife, high and low to find the right angle," Martens said. "I haven't been here (to the BREC) since a tour in April and obviously there's a world of difference and it's real nice in here. Besides there not being a bad seat in the house, the sight lines are beautiful. I'm looking forward to October 15th."

The Bemidji State men's hockey team opens the regular season and the BREC Oct. 15-16 against North Dakota in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.

There are no single-game tickets available for the two games that weekend due to BSU alumni participation. A way to guarantee admittance to the BSU-UND series is through a season-ticket package.

BSU staff, including former BSU head coach R.H. "Bob" Peters, were on hand to answer questions about season ticket packages.

One person who purchased season tickets was Scott Johnson. The 1991 BSU graduate who played for the Beavers said the main reason he came out to Select-A-Seat Night was to check out the building for the first time.

"I've tried to come to every Beaver game I can over the last 20 years," Johnson said. "Now the Beavers are going to be in the WCHA and it's going to be awesome and it's going to be good hockey ... I've heard some stories about the place from other people and it looks like there's not a bad seat in the house. I think it will be a good atmosphere here."

Tuesday's experience was new to visitors and hockey fans, but also for the new employees of the BREC.

Anne Anderson is a part-time usher for the BREC and she was busy fielding questions from visitors walking around the arena.

It was Anderson's first day of work and her second time in the building.

"I've heard nothing but positive comments tonight," Anderson said. "This has been a long time coming for the community and I'm excited I'm going to be here to help open it."

Anderson, who also works at Bemidji Dental Clinic, said she was initially unsure about applying for a job at the BREC. But she warmed up to the idea after talking with friends and is looking forward to the coming months at the new facility.

"People who come here for sports or concerts are going to be in happy spirits and that's a good thing," Anderson said. "The feeling here is always going to be positive and we need more of that in our community. I want this place to be a success and being an employee here is my way of giving back to the community and the BREC."

The Bemidji State men's hockey Green/White intrasquad scrimmage at the BREC has been rescheduled for 2:07 p.m. Saturday.

The scrimmage was previously scheduled for Thursday as part of Fan Appreciation Night.

The event will now be held in conjunction with the ribbon-cutting ceremony and BREC open house scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

"We're excited to be able to combine the Green/White Game with the ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday afternoon," BREC Executive Director Bob LaBarron said. "It provides everyone the opportunity to see more areas of the facility than would have been available Thursday and makes October 9th a "grander" grand opening than we anticipated."