Dozens of people turned out in Great Falls Wednesday to view the first draft of a plan to build a multipurpose events center at the Montana ExpoPark.
The draft proposal includes improving the Pacific Steel and Recycling Arena to a better flat floor convention hall, while constructing a new multipurpose event center with fixed seating for 5,000-5,500 and retractable seating that would allow for 6,000-7,000 people.
The plan also includes upgrades to many existing agricultural buildings, construction of a new indoor riding arena, and the addition of new RV hookups.
The total cost of the proposal is estimated at $86.1 million, but funding for the proposal remains a major question.
A feasibility study projects that current ExpoPark facilities will see decreasing use and will not meet growing needs if improvements are not made.
Great Falls, Montana Tourism Director Rebecca Engum said they are still seeking public input on the draft before a final proposal is made to Cascade County Commissioners.
“The more input we have into making this draft document a finalized option really makes it a greater tool for the rest of the community and for the Cascade County people to make good decisions and so I was very pleased that we got fantastic attendance to learn about this project,” said Engum.
-Reported by Joe Huisinga/MTN News
(November 21, 2018) A Montana ExpoPark project in the making for several years will be presented to community members next week.
Great Falls Montana Tourism director Rebecca Engum says they have been working on this project for the past four years.
The first study found Great Falls would benefit by developing a multipurpose event center.
“They decided that the best place for the multipurpose event center for our community was at the Montana ExpoPark,” Engum said.
The newest study will be presented on Wednesday, November 28th, and will focus on the long-term effects the facility could have on the 133-acre site.
“The improvements are the things that really are not visible: water, sewer systems, and power systems,” Engum said.
Improvements to buildings, barns, and roofs would also be needed throughout the grounds.
“A few improvements to the Four Seasons Arena to make it a more useful flat surface space. Then of course construction of a multipurpose event center on the grounds,” Engum said.
The other events like concerts, basketball games, and floor performances would be moved over to the multipurpose event center.
Conventions and other flat floor events would still be held in the Four Seasons.
“After it is presented we will start to look at what needs to be adjusted to the plan to finalize it. Then we will finalize it and the next step is really do we want to move forward with it,” Engum said.
One big question, how will be the project be funded?
“There are funding proposals in the plan of ways to fund the expansion and the improvement of Montana ExpoPark,” Engum said.
If the community of Great Falls wants to make the changes at the Montana ExpoPark then they will move forward with fundraising.