Today was a pretty big day for most of the college hockey programs in the state of Minnesota. Governor Tim Pawlenty agreed to the state's bonding bill, albeit after line-item vetoing a little over $200 million.
The good news is that many of the projects important to college hockey fans in the state were not affected by the vetoes.
Perhaps the most critical project to be funded was the Bemidji Regional Events Center, which will be the new home of Bemidji State's hockey team. If they can fill that new arena somewhat consistently, I think it's very likely that they'll become a member of the WCHA some day. Without the new arena, BSU probably would have had to drop their program.
Minnesota-Duluth will also finally get their new arena. The city of Duluth voted to raise the sales tax in the city to help fund the arena, only to have the state's funding fail to come through. They'll finally get that funding, and what should be a beautiful new arena. Kevin Pates of the Duluth-News Tribune has more.
St. Cloud State also got a little over $6 million for renovations to the National Hockey Center. St. Cloud's politicians deserve a lot of credit for this, since this seemed like one of the less essential projects on there, and easiest to cut. You can't blame St. Cloud for trying though, and good for them for getting the money.
Crookston, Minnesota will also be getting a new arena which will be used by the local college, high school, and youth program.
One casualty to the line-item veto was $975,000 for planning for a new women's hockey rink/practice facility for Minnesota State Mankato. It's certainly a disappointing development for the one Division I program in the state of Minnesota that didn't receive state money to build their arena, and doesn't receive state money to cover operating costs in the buildings they play in.
Pawlenty also vetoed $1.4 million for the National Sports Center in Blaine, home of the Schwan Super Rink.
Overall, it was a great day for hockey in Minnesota, and most specifically, a great day for the people of Bemidji and Duluth. Once we get into the offseason, I'll take a little closer look at some of these impressive projects.