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Bemidji council views updated center designs

BEMIDJI -- Although still in progress, the design of the Bemidji Regional Events Center is getting close to completion, according to the project consultant.

BEMIDJI -- Although still in progress, the design of the Bemidji Regional Events Center is getting close to completion, according to the project consultant.

Bill Merrill, vice president of sports and assembly with Leo A Daly, and other architects presented updated renderings of the events center's exterior design and floor plans Monday night to the Bemidji City Council at a work session.

Merrill said the biggest change in the events center exterior is the reduction of the height of the building's perimeter wall. Scaling down the events center from a three-level building to a two-level building gave the architects more flexibility with the elevation of the perimeter of the building while the high roof over the main event floor remains the same, he said.

He said the events center design has two primary entrances -- one for the arena and one for the convention center.

Merrill presented current floor plans for the first level, which includes event floor, concourse and team spaces, and the second level, which includes clubs and suites. He also showed roof and catwalk plans.


"This indicates the progress that we've made in developing the overall scheme," he said.

He added, "We are on schedule. We are on track with the budget."

Two-level building

Bill Maki, vice president for finance and administration at Bemidji State University, said he and BSU head men's hockey coach Tom Serratore visited a facility with a layout similar to the events center in Laredo, Texas, and now feel more comfortable about the reduced two-level design.

The university has signed a memorandum of understanding with the city that BSU hockey would be the events center's anchor tenant.

Although the events center now is a two-level building, Steve Singer, associate senior architect with Leo A Daly, said the current design plans for the exterior of the events center still includes stone, brick and metal, which were incorporated into earlier designs.

"The idea is still the same," Singer said.

Landscaping also will be part of the outside view of the events center. Tom Whitlock, landscape architect with Damon Farber Associates, said design plans include bringing native landscape into the area up and around the building.


Whitlock said plans also include creating a green buffer near the office areas of the building, pedestrian walkways leading to the plaza areas and entrances, and a glass wall running almost the entire length of the concourse on the south side of the building. From the wall, he said, people could look outside through an area of trees to the wetlands and ponds to the south.

"This is really impressive-looking," said councilor Onen Markeson, adding that the landscaping gives the events center an Up North look.

The events center will be about 185,000 square feet, and about 1,100 parking spaces are planned between Central and Grant avenues. Together, the building and parking areas will cover 24.2 acres.

Merrill said the next steps for the events center design team include continued refinement of the design and more development of the technical systems of the building.

The Bemidji Pioneer and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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