City Council to discuss the future of the Neilson Reise Arena

The Bemidji City Council is meeting this evening to discuss the future of the Neilson Reise Arena.

According to city documents, the facility closed March 16 due to COVID concerns, and the arena’s operating loss so far is $62,000.

To reopen, the city would need to hire outside contractors to the tune of $5,000, to help with the plant and ice painting, and they would take up to four weeks for the ice to be put in and prepare the facility for opening.

Ice was removed in April. The Neilson Reise Arena uses a direct R-22 refrigeration system. R-22 is scheduled to phase out this year to due its adverse environmental impacts.

The council will discuss four options: keep the arena closed, sell the arena, open the arena for a shortened season, or consider opening the arena at a later date when more information is known, such as if there will be a high school or NCAA hockey season.

A 2018 Ice Study indicated that there was not enough of a population, or demand for ice time, to necessitate five sheets of ice in the community. The Sanford Center has one sheet, with a second sheet in its long-term plan, and the Bemidji Community Arena is in the process of building a second sheet of ice.

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