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Bozeman gets Class A boys hoops tourney
October 19, 2010Northwest Montana A Conference
Bozeman gets Class A boys hoops tourneyBozeman gets Class A boys hoops tourney
Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette | Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 12:26 pm |
The Montana High School Association board on Tuesday awarded the state Class A boys basketball tournament to Bozeman.
The tournament will be held March 3-5 at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman, MHSA Executive Director Mark Beckman said.
The decision came as another blow to MetraPark, which had been slated to host the tournament on March 10-12. But after a tornado ripped through the Rimrock Auto Arena in June, the MHSA board decided to reopen the tournament for bidding.
Yellowstone County officials were hopeful that the MHSA board would accept MetraPark's revised bid to host the tournament in the Expo Center. But Beckman said the board went with Bozeman because the fieldhouse there can hold 7,000 fans, while the Expo Center can hold only 4,500.
MetraPark also was offering portable facilities, including locker rooms and showers, Beckman said. The board understood MetraPark's predicament, but concluded that the tournament would be better held in Bozeman, especially because the Class A girls tournament is happening the same weekend in nearby Belgrade.
"They looked at facilities, they looked at the communities, and they went into facility and seating capabilities," Beckman said of the board meeting. "They were concerned that there'd be enough seating capacity."
After the discussion, MHSA board member Dennis Holmes, who is principal at Senior High, made a motion to hold the tournament at MetraPark, but the vote went 4-2 against his motion. Board member Doug Reisig voted with Holmes, while board members Duane Walker, Dave Perius, Lance Voegele and Pat Lynch voted against MetraPark.
The board then voted 5-1 to host the tournament in Bozeman, with Holmes voting against that motion.
"I think there was definitely a concern that the Expo Center could be in a situation where it was sold out," Holmes said.
Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy was disappointed with the MHSA's decision and said the Expo Center would clearly work to host a tournament like the boys Class A.
"We addressed the issue of seating in the place and we could offer up to 4,500 seats and plenty of parking," Kennedy said. "I think we addressed all of the issues that the high school association had."
Beckman said organizers wanted to ensure that no one was turned away from the tournament, which is why Bozeman was so appealing. Kennedy said he didn't think that 7,000 seats would be needed in Bozeman unless some of the teams brought unexpectedly large crowds.
Class A teams include Laurel, Billings Central, Glendive, Hardin, Havre and others. The other Billings high schools are in Class AA, which includes schools from Bozeman, Helena, Missoula, Kalispell, Butte and Great Falls.
Kennedy praised the efforts of MetraPark staffers and the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce, which assisted in preparing the tournament bid. But he said the loss of the basketball tournament, coupled with the recent loss of the state all-class wrestling tournament in February, will be painful.
"It's going to affect quite a few businesses that have depended on the income coming in through the doors and people shopping and things like that," Kennedy said. "It gets disheartening, but I'm happy that we had one vote."
Slated for MetraPark but still up for grabs is the boys and girls Class A divisional tournament scheduled for Feb. 23-26. MetraPark had won the bid to host that tournament as well, but divisional officials have opened that tournament up for new bids.
Divisional officials - not the MHSA board - are expected to make a decision on that tournament in the first week of November.