BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji Community Arena is aiming to open by Aug. 1 for the 2020-21 season.

The city last week announced the closure of Neilson Reise Arena until the fall due to uncertainty over when social distancing measures implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic will be relaxed. The move sparked discussion that the BCA could potentially open earlier than usual to make up for the lost ice time. However, that is not possible until August due to the construction of a second rink at the facility.

“It’s impossible,” BCA Corp. President Dale Thompson said, “because in order to put in a refrigeration system in the second arena, you have to tie in to our refrigeration systems in the first arena. And (during) that process, you can’t have one arena running and another one under construction.”

The second rink is projected to be operational by Oct. 1, Thompson said. Groundbreaking on the second rink addition took place in August 2018.

Neilson Reise Arena is typically the only ice rink in Bemidji that remains open during the summer.