'Let's play hockey': Full house expected at BREC for men's game tonight; women play matinee
This is it. The Bemidji Regional Event Center, under construction since April 2009, will open today. The Bemidji State University hockey teams will officially christen the ice in their first home games of the season. The women will face off again...
This is it.
The Bemidji Regional Event Center, under construction since April 2009, will open today.
The Bemidji State University hockey teams will officially christen the ice in their first home games of the season. The women will face off against Mercyhurst at 2:07 p.m. while the men will play at 7:37 p.m. against North Dakota.
The men's game is a sellout and a crowd of 4,700 is expected to watch Bemidji State's first official game as a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
"We will be ready (for opening) come Friday morning," said Bob LeBarron, executive director of the BREC.
But is he excited?
"We're exhausted," he replied.
The hockey teams, anchor tenants of the BREC, will hold the first events in the 185,000-square-foot facility on the south shore of Lake Bemidji.
As such, BREC workers have developed a plan that they hope will ease the stresses of traffic and parking.
First, hockey-goers should be aware of a $3 parking charge that will be required, in cash.
Exact change would be appreciated, LeBarron noted.
The parking charge, which will vary for different BREC events, does not apply to those who have a parking permit.
The Beaver Pride luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the BREC ballroom. To register for the luncheon, call 218-755-2294.
LeBarron noted that those who attend the Beaver Pride luncheon will have to pay for parking, but they should retain their tickets if they leave and return for the men's game.
Those who will have to pay for parking are asked to utilize the Central Avenue entrance to the BREC, which is the closest entrance to the intersection of First Street and Paul Bunyan Drive.
Those with parking permits are asked to utilize the Grant Avenue entrance.
No tailgating will be permitted in the BREC parking lot.
LeBarron said staff can't control what the public does in every case.
But staff is working to minimize the issues as much as possible.
The game certainly has changed for people like Brad Folkestad, director of athletic media relations for Bemidji State.
"In the John Glas Fieldhouse we had room for 13 or 14 members of the media,"?Folkestad said. "Our new press box is equipped to hold between 30 and 40, and surprisingly we've had to turn some outlets away because of the volume of requests we've had for this weekend."
Folkestad said among the outlets on hand for the North Dakota series will be the International Falls Journal newspaper, a photographer from U.S. College Hockey Online and a reporter for MinnPost, a Twin Cities-based online news site.
"I think everybody around BSU?is having to grow into our new boulding and new league quickly because of North Dakota being our opening opponent,"?Folke-stad said. "It's an exciting time, no doubt about that. They're good problems to have, that's for sure."
A large group of former Bemidji State players is expected to be on hand for the opening series. One who might be conflicted in his allegiances if Mark Kristo, former Beaver team captain whose son, Danny, is a star forward for North Dakota.
Mark, who now lives in Eden Prairie, played high school hockey at Owatonna. He came to BSU in 1972 and scored 122 points in 107 career games.
Danny was named WCHA rookie of the year last season after scoring 36 goals. He also led the United States to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Saskatoon, Sask., in January, scoring eight points in seven games.