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Bemidji Regional Events Center, Bemidji, MN

A new Bemidji (Minn.) arena will be the home of the Bemidji State Beavers.


Scheduled Opening:
Fall, 2010
City of Bemidji
Arena Cost:
$ 90.7 million
Team (s):
Bemidji State University (CHA men, WCHA women)
Grant Ave and 1st Street.

John Chattin chuckled. “People ask me all the time if this is the biggest project I have ever worked on,” said the city manager for Bemidji. “I tell them yeah … but only by about $89 million or so.” 


Chattin is currently a bit of a one-man gang supervising the startup of the Regional Events Center, a $90.7 million facility that will be built in the next two years in the northern Minnesota city. The arena, which is scheduled to open in January 2011, is a bit of lifesaver for Bemidji State University, which currently plays Division I men’s and women’s hockey in Glas Fieldhouse, a 42-year old facility that was perfectly acceptable for when it was built. The school’s membership as a D-I player was in a bit of a danger until the funding came together last spring.


A 300-page marketing plan helped convince the Minnesota legislature to kick the final needed amount – roughly $23 million. Minnesota Governor Tin Pawlenty is a former hockey player and signed off on the deal. The new arena will seat 4,000 people and have 25 suites. That may not seem like much but it is roughly a third of the entire city’s population.


Right now, all Chattin has is an architectural design and a couple of people working. Fairly soon, however, the town Paul Bunyan made famous figures to be corking with activity. “We expect to award the construction contacts and decide on hotel partners no later than January 1,” Chattin said. “After that, we’ll start to hire an Operations Staff and the thing really takes off.”


Leo Daly Architects are handling the design of the two story facility that can be converted intio an arena for volleyball or basketball. In addition, Chattin envisions event ssuch as dirt bike racing, circuses and concerts — most of which would never have considered Bemidji before — as possible. 


Although no one arena is being used as a guide, Chattin said Daly is using the Laredo (TX) Entertainment Center, which is currently home to a hockey and arena football team, is being used as an example.


The Beaver hockey teams will be the main tenant, though. At first, the hockey folks wanted to be able to practice there and then changed their mind and just wanted to play games there. Recently, the Beaver hockey folks have gone back to their original plan.