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New recreation center at Lions Park receives large donation

Big Sky Indoor Aquatics & Recreation Center
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Posted at 10:22 PM, Sep 13, 2023

GREAT FALLS — In September of 2021, the city of Great Falls, in partnership with Malmstrom Air Force Base, broke ground on the construction of a new recreation facility at Lions Park along 10th Avenue South (link).

The project is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2024.

Backed by $10 million in city-bonds, and a $10 million grant from the Department of Defense, the 45,000 square foot recreation center’s cost is largely covered for. However, a $3 million campaign has been opened to fun aquatic, recreation, and fitness equipment for the facility to be ready day one.

Big Sky Indoor Aquatics & Recreation Center

“We wanted to make sure that it was fully inclusive to everybody. Regardless of their ability to pay. So we have a scholarship fund that's going to make sure that families that need support have that support. Number two, we also know that all of the critical equipment that really brings this facility to life and makes it special, that's critical to have on day one,” says campaign manager, Chase Rose.

Currently $1.6 million of the $3 million needed has been raised in anticipation for the May 2024 open. One million dollars of that money raised was announced Wednesday at a press location on-site. A generous gift from the Great Falls Scheels.

“The determining factor with this project was there was very strong leadership and vision and execution. And when we saw those things in place, we knew this was going to happen, quite frankly, whether we were involved or not. So we just feel blessed to be involved,” says Great Falls Scheels store leader, Tim Kubetz.

Big Sky Indoor Aquatics & Recreation Center
Big Sky Indoor Aquatics & Recreation Center

In honor of the donation, the facility will be named the, “Scheels Aim High Big Sky Recreation Center”, announced at the press conference Wednesday.

The campaign still requires $1.4 million to be raised to ensure equipment is installed. An anonymous donor has set up a dollar-match system, up to $50,000. For every dollar donated by the community, it will be matched by the donor up the the aforementioned amount.

The facility will provide its space for Malmstrom personnel to partake in water training and the facility hopes to host several high-school athletic tournaments, both aquatic and basketball.

For more information and for updates on the construction of the new recreation center, click here.