Bemidji events center design planning continues

The events center design team is being watchful of the complex's total square footage as it tries to keep down the facility's construction costs. Except for one area. When the second sheet of ice was eliminated and the facility was compressed and...

The events center design team is being watchful of the complex's total square footage as it tries to keep down the facility's construction costs.

Except for one area.

When the second sheet of ice was eliminated and the facility was compressed and realigned, the northwest corner of the facility emerged as a "very special spot," according to Steve Singer, a senior architect with Leo A Daly.

This rounded area, referred to as break-out space, offers a view of Diamond Point Park across Lake Bemidji and is just slightly smaller than the footprint of Bemidji City Hall.

"That's the space I'd want to be in," Singer said.


The design team presented plans to members of the Design Review Committee, city staff and City Council Tuesday night. The design team will continue meetings today as it hosts Bemidji State University officials in the morning, a public open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a special council meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Singer led a presentation Tuesday night in which he unveiled further plans for the exterior of the events center building and its site, as well as a virtual tour of all three floors inside.

Singer repeatedly highlighted the round break-out space located in the northwest corner of the complex. While now proposed to be a single story, it also includes a terrace on its top, accessible from the second level of the events center/arena.

"This is the one area where we intentionally made it bigger," Singer said.

The events center building in total is 240,000 square feet, he said, adding that the design team will continue working to compress its size.

Storage, however, will not likely be among the areas that are made smaller or eliminated. Singer said he kept trying to cut back on storage, but Jennifer McMaster, a Leo A Daly architect, kept reminding him that the top complaint from those who work with similar buildings is that they don't have enough storage.

The plan is far from complete, Singer noted. The design team continues to fine-tune aspects of the building and is looking at how different aspects of the building work together.

"We're not inventing a lot of things," he said, noting that the main components are already known. "We're just putting them together in different ways."


During a visual tour of the facility, Singer showed how BSU hockey fans enter on the ice level of the complex and walk up to the concourse level, where they would then have access to concessions, restrooms. They would then walk down toward the ice bowl and take their seats.

The main level of the complex also includes the 12,000 square feet for the convention center's ballroom, which could be broken up into four smaller spaces.

The second level, or the concourse level, contains viewing area of the ice on both ends of the arena, but not along the sides, which would instead feature concessions and other accessory functions.

Interested parties would access the terrace above the break-out space from the second level as well, Singer explained.

The top level of the complex would house the 25 private suites and the clubhouse, which is proposed to be located on the west side of the building.

The third level is also proposed to offer a view of Lake Bemidji through a "continuous ribbon of glass" that will run along the side of the complex, Singer said, noting that the lake is a huge asset for the events center.

"Very few places have that," he said.

One area that was discussed during Tuesday's meeting was the 5,000-square-foot weight-training facility that is now proposed to be on the first floor behind the main entry into the arena.


The space is being reserved for BSU, Singer noted, although it is not likely to be used in the immediate future unless the lease agreement with the university and the city is revised. BSU hockey will compete in games at the events center, but is not now going to be housed in the complex, meaning that its weight-training needs and offices will be located elsewhere for the time being.

In the meantime, Singer said the weight-training room space could possibly be used as meeting space or a fitness center.

When asked how a potential hotel would be connected to the events center complex, Singer said that would likely be addressed during negotiations with the hotel developer.

But, if it were up to him, he said, the link would be a nice walkway.

"I'd like to get some room between our building and their building," he said.

The size of the events center is difficult to grasp, several people noted during the meeting. The design team responded by saying the events center complex is slightly larger than one city block.

During Wednesday's meeting with the City Council, the design team is expected to have drawings to offer size comparisons to existing Bemidji buildings.

Singer noted that the mix of building materials such as brick, stone and metal paneling will help distract from the overall size.

"This is a pallet of materials we can use to break it up into pieces and break up the scale of the building," he said.

What To Read Next
Mike Clemens, a farmer from Wimbledon, North Dakota, was literally (and figuratively) “blown away,” when his equipment shed collapsed under a snow load.