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Work progresses on Bemidji event center

BEMIDJI -- It wasn't that long ago that the site for the Bemidji Regional Event Center was covered in mounds of dirt. Now, the BREC not only is fully enclosed, but the insides have been defined. No longer can you picture where the arena bowl will...

BEMIDJI -- It wasn't that long ago that the site for the Bemidji Regional Event Center was covered in mounds of dirt.

Now, the BREC not only is fully enclosed, but the insides have been defined.

No longer can you picture where the arena bowl will be -- instead, you can actually see seat arrangements and the layout of the suites.

The Pioneer was invited to take part in a tour of the BREC on Wednesday afternoon. The tour was led by Rob Bollinger, executive director of the Bemidji State University Foundation, and Kraus-Anderson's Gerry Domino, BREC senior project manager.

The two pointed out that the BREC will, of course, be used for more than just hockey, but the tour was geared toward Bemidji State University hockey fans who may be interested in purchasing tickets.


We began by walking through the main entrance and through the main concourse, where tour leaders pointed out where staircases and elevators to the suites will be located.

Each of the two longer sides of the concourse will have concessions and restrooms.

Then, they pointed out a separate entrance where BSU students will be dropped off by shuttle and go right into the arena.

"They'll be able to go right into the student seating section," Bollinger said.

The student seating section is on the east end of the BREC. Here, there are more than 650 seats, of which 450 to 500 seats are bleacher-style seats.

The entire BREC has about 4,500 seats, including seating in the 15 suites and the club seating section.

Along the concourse on the east of the BREC is where the BSU area begins. This is where locker rooms and BSU facilities -- for men and women -- are located.

"They're going to be very, very nice," Bollinger said of the locker rooms. "They're going to be among the best in the country."


Past the BSU locker rooms are the visitors' locker rooms and additional locker rooms for tournaments and other events that might be held at the BREC. All have "Bemidji green" accents.

"There's going to be a lot of green," Bollinger said.

The weight room is next, which already has large windows looking out to the BREC grounds. The area is large enough to accommodate all the student-athletes who will be using it.

Along that area's walls will be locations for all of the teams' plaques and trophies.

A separate area, referred to as the Bob Peters/BSU History Wall, will be located near the main entrance. This will feature memorabilia documenting the history of the hockey programs, including the men's Frozen Four appearance from 2009.

Past that are eight offices for the coaches and personnel from BSU.

There also will be conference rooms, a lobby and a reception area.

"It will be a lot different than being in the Glas," Bollinger said, referencing BSU's current home arena, the John Glas Fieldhouse on the BSU campus.


Down another hallway is a production area, which will facilitate the video produced for the large scoreboard, or "video display system."

Nearby is the "green room" which will be used for media interviewing players or where the stars of events might hang out in while waiting to perform. There also is a dressing room.

Arena bowl

The bowl itself is now surrounded by the different levels that will feature the actual chairs for seating.

The day we toured, the seating areas were covered in acoustic insulation that had fallen from the ceiling, where workers were installing the material.

The suites have been defined, and while furniture is not yet in the building, you can tell the difference between the main mingling areas of the suites and where people would sit.

Each suite, Domino said, would have spaces for 12 seats, including four bar stools.

There are 15 suites on the south end of the BREC and 10 on the north end, which also features the press box above center ice.


At bowl level, both player benches will be on the south end, with the Beavers' bench located farther west, toward to the main entrance.

"The opposing team will come in on the end from the (ice resurfacer) room," Bollinger said. "The Beavers will come out to the ice right at center ice."

The seating around the bowl will have 16 rows of seats -- seven of which will be retractable seating added to the permanent nine rows.

"There's not a bad seat in the arena" Bollinger said. "It's very intimate."

Other seating options in the BREC include the nonalcoholic "family section," which costs less than general admission tickets.

There also are areas reserved for the opposing team's fans.

"In the WCHA, opposing teams get 50 tickets for family and friends and 100 tickets they can sell," Bollinger said.

If those tickets are not sold, the Beavers can sell them as general admission. For more information on seating for Beaver games, go online to BSUtickets.com.


On the upper level on the west end of the facility is where the club seating will be located.

There also will be a club lounge, restrooms, elevators and a stairway.

Along the concourse's more open spaces will be tables, chairs and areas to relax or converse with others.

"So, if during a certain period, you want to come sit out here, you can," Bollinger said.

He also mentioned that it also might be a nice area for a wedding reception.

The club lounge is planned to have more of an upscale selection than concession stands.

The lounge, for instance, might offer wine, sandwiches and soup.

Bollinger is trying to sell planners on the idea of selling Bemidji food items such as walleye and wild rice soup.


That would be ideal, he said, to have the BREC offer a signature dish.

"You come to Bemidji, you have to get the walleye," he said.

Conference center

The 10,000-square-foot conference center portion of the BREC also has taken shape.

The convention center portion of the facility will include a 10,000-square-foot dividable ballroom and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

The rooms, which feature views of Lake Bemidji, have blackout shades that can be used to block out the outdoors.

The concourse area is also wide enough that it will be able to house vendors' tables for trade shows.

The conference center also features a separate entrance and a full kitchen area.

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

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