As construction crews continue to rebuild Rimrock Auto Arena, MetraPark administrators on Wednesday announced the return of several Montana High School Association athletic events to Billings in 2012 and 2013.
MetraPark won bids to host the all-class state wrestling tournament and the Class C boys state basketball tournament in 2012, and announced a long-term agreement to host the combined Eastern A boys and girls divisional basketball tournament.
Billings will also host the wrestling tournament and the State A boys basketball tournament in 2013.
MHSA events will return to Rimrock Auto Arena after a one-year absence. A tornado damaged the arena in June 2010.
MetraPark general manager Bill Dutcher and Central High athletic director Tracy Scott announced a three-year agreement to bring the combined Eastern A basketball tournament back to Rimrock Auto Arena, with an option for the two following years.
After a five-year run in Billings, the 2011 Eastern A tournaments were held at Dawson County High School in Glendive.
“We’re very excited to be back at MetraPark,” Scott said. “The people in Glendive did a phenomenal job with what they had. I think once people come back to Billings, they’re really going to be appreciative.”
The 2012 wrestling tournament is scheduled for Feb. 10-11. The Eastern A basketball tournament will be Feb. 23-25 and the State C boys tourney March 1-3.
MetraPark officials said they bid on several events for 2013, including combined tournaments for both State AA and State B boys and girls basketball, and State C boys basketball. But it was awarded only the wrestling tournament (Feb. 8-9, 2013) and State A boys basketball (March 7-9, 2013).
MetraPark management said it kept bids for all 2013 tournaments at the same rate as bids submitted for 2012.
Chris Johnson, chairman of the Tourism Business Improvement District, said funds administered by the Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau will bear a portion of MetraPark’s fees for hosting the MHSA events. Johnson said the TBID’s financial burden could range from $100 up to a $10,000 allotment.
The TBID will also provide hospitality for coaches and administrators throughout the tournaments. Johnson said the TBID assesses $1 per occupied hotel room to support its activities.
“The economic effect is huge,” Johnson said. “The restaurants benefit from these dollars. The convenience stores, the fast food, gas stations, etc. ... The economic impact is very, very large for the city of Billings.”
Butte was awarded both the boys and girls State A basketball tournaments for 2012, while Bozeman will host the State B boys tournament. Hamilton was granted the State B girls basketball tourney and Great Falls was awarded State C girls.
Class B will combine its boys and girls state basketball tournaments in 2013, which Butte will host.