Tag Archives: Denis Pitman

New hockey franchise may bring game to MetraPark

Originally published in the 12/1/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — Billings is once again being asked to host a hockey franchise, only this time it is a professional team, a new one to be formed as part of the ECHL.

“The ECHL is a major professional league with 27 teams in the US and Canada. The play of ECHL hockey is at a higher level, and there should be no comparison to the semi-professional leagues with which Billings is familiar,” said Ray Massie, marketing director for MetraPark. “This is very far from Junior Hockey.”  

Massie sees the proposal as a potential boon for MetraPark in terms of filling event dates and generating additional revenue. MetraPark Advisory Board members are broaching the proposal with considerable caution. During their regular meeting last Tuesday, the board failed to pass a motion to ask the county commissioners to pursue the proposal, with many board members saying they want more information.

The hang up is ice and timing. The four businessmen who are making the proposal are asking that MetraPark invest more than $3.1 million to install ice and provide for offices, locker rooms and training space. MetraPark abandoned their aging ice facilities some years ago.

That’s a tough decision to make, said County Commissioner Robyn Driscoll, given all the other constraints on the county’s budget.

“The county isn’t going to say here’s $3 million, go for it,” she said.

Commissioner Denis Pitman, who was also at the meeting, said the commissioners would like feedback from the board.

Massie laid forth details of the proposal, which would include a five-year lease agreement with the team. MetraPark’s finance team crunched the numbers, based primarily upon the experience of the franchise team in Rapid City, South Dakota and they believe the proposal is doable. The worst-case scenario is that MetraPark would break even and be left with a valuable asset – an ice sheet – that would accommodate MetraPark engaging other events, such as Disney ice productions or exhibition games, which would generate other revenues. read more

Sen. Conrad Burns fondly recalled at memorial ceremony

Originally published in the 10/13/17 print publication.  by Evelyn Pyburn BILLINGS — A Who’s Who of county residents, both past and present, filled the lobby of the MetraPark arena for the unveiling of the sign that will designate the Conrad Burns … read more

Huntley Project Museum celebrates past and looks to the future

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News. HUNTLEY PROJECT — About 80 people turned out on Saturday to celebrate both history and progress. Saturday’s events marked the 110th anniversary of irrigation on the Huntley Project, the transformation … read more

Tax abatement program helps jump-start business projects

Originally published in the print edition of Yellowstone County News. BILLINGS — It’s not without its critics. The tax abatement program that Yellowstone County and the City of Billings use to incentivize business growth, expansion and recruitment is often viewed … read more

Special Primary Election Edition

The 2016 Montana primary election is peaking and all campaigns are or should be in full swing. The absentee ballots in Yellowstone County will be going out in the mail on Friday May 13th. Bret Rutherford, Yellowstone County Election Administrator, … read more