MetraPark: What Would You Like to See at Montana’s Biggest Venue?
Most of us shouldn't have a problem thinking of a great memory made at MetraPark. For some, they'll never forget winning a high school championship game or earning their first blue ribbon at MontanaFair. Literally thousands of Billings high schoolers have walked the graduation stage at the Metra and all of us have attended trade shows, conventions and concerts at Montana's largest venue.
Surely, you can remember your first concert at the Metra? Mine was Def Leppard, circa 1991. I lived in Bozeman and me and a buddy made record time in his little Z car to catch the show after work. I've lost track of all the bands I've seen at MetraPark since then, but you never forget your first.
Now, MetraPark is aging. First Interstate Arena is nearly 50 years old. The ancient, crumbling grandstand was demolished last year, as were two other outdated wooden structures that bordered the southeast end of the carnival lot. The 12,000 seat arena was built for a cost of $11 million and was completed in 1975. When it was damaged by a tornado in 2010, proposed costs to build a new building was over $30 million. The decision was made to repair the existing building instead, adding a few renovations and updates in the process.
The MetraPark Advisory Committee is hosting Master Plan Public Listening Sessions this week as organizers move forward with future plans for the site. Committee President Charlie Loveridge welcomes everyone to come watch the presentation and strongly encourages public input during the Q&A portion of the meetings. Many attractive ideas are on the table for the Metra's 189 acre footprint, including:
- An outdoor amphitheater.
- A second, slightly smaller arena for rodeos and other events that require dirt.
- Enhanced livestock facilities.
- RV park/camping availability on the flood-plain areas of the land.
- Redesigning traffic flow and access in/out of MetraPark.
You can hear my full interview with Charlie Loveridge HERE.
Upcoming Master Plan Public Listening Sessions are:
- 5:30 pm Tuesday, 4/27 at Lockwood High School Auditorium
- 5:30 pm Wednesday, 4/28 at Laurel High School Auditorium
- 5:30 pm Thurday, 4/29 at Yellowstone Valley Electric Co-op Community Room (Huntely)
Master Plan Design Workshops will be held:
- Tuesday, May 4th at 12 pm at MetraPark
- Thursday, May 6th at 4:30 pm at MetraPark
Virtual meetings will also be held and you can find more information on the MetraPark Facebook page.