Funding for New Bemidji Rink Passed by Minnesota House

Funding of a new hockey arena for Bemidji State was part of the budget passed Thursday by the Minnesota house. Within the budget is $677.6 million in building projects, which includes $18 for Bemidji State to build a new on-campus facility.

The project still has to survive the Senate’s budget approval process.

Plans are already drawn for the new facility, which would go next to the Beavers’ existing rink. If Bemidji State gets final approval, groundbreaking could begin as early as Fall 2004, with completion by Fall 2006.

According to the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer, “Key to the funding was putting the hockey arena through the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission rather than through the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, where it wasn’t listed as a priority.”

The measure got through with little resistance.

“The only reference to us all day was from Rep. Paymar.” said Rep. Doug Fuller, R-Bemidji, of Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, to the Pioneer. Paymar questioned the need for an arena when a $20 million initiative to combat homelessness was deleted.

Proponents of the arena noted similar rink initiatives at St. Cloud State and Minnesota, and stressed the positive impact of a new rink on the regional economy.

Several house panels also heard testimony from the likes of Academic All-America Bemidji players Anik Côté and Bryce Methven, and former Gophers coach Glen Sonmor.