Bemidji State University signs lease with city of Bemidji for regional events center

BEMIDJI, Minn. — On Monday, Bemidji State University President Dr. Jon E. Quistgaard and Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann signed a lease agreement between the University and the city of Bemidji to secure Bemidji State’s status as the anchor tenant of the Bemidji Regional Events Center.

The lease signing, held prior to a meeting of the Bemidji City Council, was the culmination of a relatively short negotiation process between the University and the city.

“I want to thank the people who have persisted and invested long hours to bring us to where we are today,” Quistgaard said.

“This has been an expansive process, involving not only the city and the University but also the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Finance,” Quistgaard said. “The process has been spirited, and we have come to a result that, I believe, will benefit both the city and Bemidji State University.

“The event center demonstrates what is possible when we work together,” Quistgaard added. “We have achieved far more than either entity could have accomplished on its own.”

The terms of the 20-year lease agreement, which begins Jan. 11, 2011 and runs through Jan. 10, 2031, will make approximately 170,000 square feet of the Bemidji Regional Events Center available to the University as the home for its NCAA Division I men’s and women’s ice hockey programs.

“This lease not only represents a wonderful partnership, but also provides an opportunity for both the city and Bemidji State University to attract the best college hockey programs in the country to a state-of-the-art facility,” Bemidji State Director of Athletics Rick Goeb said. “This lease is more than a simple agreement between two parties. It is a statement to the other hockey programs in the country that Bemidji State University and the Bemidji community are committed to Division I hockey.”

The Bemidji Regional Events Center will feature a 4,000-seat arena around an NCAA-regulation 200 foot-by-85 foot ice sheet. The building will house 25 luxury suites, 250 club-level seats, 2,000 square feet of office space, a 2,000-square-foot weight room and 500 square feet on the concourse level to serve as a retail outlet for Bemidji State merchandise.

“I’m excited about the new era this lease signing signals for Bemidji State’s Division I hockey programs,” Quistgaard said. “I am equally excited about the opportunities this facility will bring to the city in its role as a regional center for health care, commerce, education and entertainment.”

Under terms of the lease, Bemidji State University will pay the city a minimum fee of $190,000 per year, based on the number of home contests played by the Bemidji State men’s hockey program. Utilities, repairs and maintenance will be the responsibility of the city, while the University will pay expenses related to gameday activities such as public address announcers, scorekeepers, security and retail and concessions kiosk staff.

The City and the University entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding a lease for the events center in 2007, and the University received authorization from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to continue pursuing a final lease agreement in November.