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Rimrock Auto Arena

The process for renaming the Rimrock Auto Arena will probably begin during the coming months, Ray Massie, MetraPark’s marketing and sales director, told Yellowstone County commissioners Tuesday.

The automobile dealership opted not to renew its contract, Massie told commissioners. But Commission Chair John Ostlund said he thinks “we will have a lot of people interested in that opportunity” once a request for proposals is circulated.

Rimrock Auto Arena’s contract expires May 31, 2019, Massie said. MetraPark officials have an idea of what they believe the naming rights are worth, “but we want to first make sure the numbers we are asking for are legitimate,” he told commissioners.

The naming rights to Montana's largest arena have been worth $100,000 annually up until now, and that figure is likely to go up substantially beginning with the new contract next year.

As a rule of thumb, Massie said, the typical fee companies pay for arena naming rights works out to be about $1 per year per person living in the community.

Since Yellowstone County's population is nearly 160,000, $160,000 per year is about what MetraPark officials can expect for the next naming rights contract — perhaps more, depending on companies' responses once the request for proposals goes out.

Rimrock Auto Group has been paying $112,500 per year to make up for a down year during the recession, Massie said. Rimrock Auto Group's name has been affiliated with the arena since 2007, and the group and the county renegotiated its contract in 2009 after several late payments.

Massie said he receives notification whenever the name "Rimrock Auto Arena" is mentioned on television airwaves around the state. During 2017, the number of mentions — if the company had purchased the equivalent airtime — would have been worth $250,000, he said.

Also in the coming weeks, Massie told commissioners, a report funded by NorthWestern Energy will be published detailing MetraPark’s impact on the local economy.

The author is Rob Gilmore, executive director of the Northern Rocky Mountain Economic Development District.

Gilmore's report is ready in draft form, Massie said, “but we want to make sure the numbers are right” before it’s released to the public, he said.

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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.