The statue of legendary Billings cowboy Dan Mortensen is seen outside Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. First Interstate Bank recently won their bid for naming rights to the arena, which will undergo a re-branding process.

County officials will begin negotiating with representatives from First Interstate Bank this month after the MetraPark Advisory Board voted on Tuesday to move forward with the bank's proposal to rename the arena. 

First Interstate Bank and Ultra Graphics entered bids for naming rights in December. First Interstate proposed a five-year contract, paying $175,000 per year for naming rights to the arena. Ultra Graphics proposed a five-year contract with an option to renew for another five years, starting at $100,000 for the first year and climbing to $165,000 the 10th year.

Both companies said they would assume the costs of replacing the signage inside and outside the arena, which was required by the county.

"Both companies did a terrific job" with their bids, said Ray Massey, MetraPark's director of marketing and sales.

But First Interstate's bid seemed like the best place to start, he said. 

The call for bids came about after Rimrock Auto Group notified Yellowstone County commissioners last summer it would not seek to renew its contract. The dealership instead will put that money into digital marketing and sales. Steve Zabawa, co-owner of Rimrock Auto, has been heading up the development of the WebBuy app, which allows people to buy cars on their phones.

First Interstate has experience working with government entities to secure naming rights. The Spokane Opera House in Spokane, Washington, is now the First Interstate Center for the Performing Arts. 

In its bid, the bank asked that it be given exclusivity among the arena's top three sponsors and that the arena's other two upper-level sponsors not be competitors of the bank. 

It also requested the right to take over signage at the arena occupied by Yellowstone Bank. It also asked for "approval authority of other sponsors from the financial services industry."

The bank proposed a couple options; First Interstate Arena and First Interstate Bank Arena. 

In its proposal, Ultra Graphics stated that it "does not seek exclusivity protections." The name it proposed to use is Ultra Graphics Arena. 

Retrospective: Metra construction

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