Community presentation on Expo Park improvement proposal moved to Wednesday
A proposal has been developed over several years for the future of the Montana ExpoPark a community presentation is planned for this week.
It was originally set for Tuesday but has been rescheduled to Nov. 28 at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn.
The presentation is being hosted by Great Falls Montana Tourism, which hired Conventions, Sports and Leisure International, in conjunction with Populous and Big Sky Civil and Environmental to conduct “a study of a forward-thinking improvement strategy for Montana ExpoPark,” according to the draft study.
In 2014, CSL completed a feasibility study of a potential new multipurpose event center in Great Falls. That study indicated that the greatest development opportunity in the city involved a multipurpose, spectator-oriented event facility located at ExpoPark as a replacement for the Four Seasons Arena, which is now Pacific Steel and recycling Arena.
In the study, Four Seasons was noted as substandard relative to modern industry standards, limiting its ability to attract and serve demand from key sports and entertainment markets, according to the draft study.
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Following the 2014 study, Great Falls Tourism and the consultants have conducted new research and analysis indicating that a new multipurpose event center, combined with other targeted improvements at ExpoPark could improve the facility’s long-term financial performance and generate new tourism and enhancing its economic impact in the community, according to the draft study.
According to the study, the Great Falls area market would support the following:
• New multipurpose event center with 5,000 to 5,500 fixed seats and 6,000 to 7,000 capacity;
• Adjustments to Pacific Steel and Recycling Arena (Four Seasons Arena);
• New covered equine arena;
• Livestock pavilion expansion;
• Additional RV hookups
• Rebuild/repair a subset of aging barns
The recommended projects are an estimated $86 million and projected to generate more annual revenue for the facilities and the community through lodging, dining and more.
The study takes into consideration current projects at ExpoPark, including the grandstand replacement and Paddock Club renovation. Those include the $2.5 million for the grandstands; $755,000 for the Paddock Club.
According to the the Four Seasons roof will need a new roof within the next three years at an estimated $2 million; and other facility repairs are an estimated $7.5 million over the next 15 years if ExpoPark remains as is.
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The strategic growth plan process was designed to recommend new venues and enhancements to existing facilities that were identified as market supportable, according to the draft plan.
Not all existing facilities on the ExpoPark campus are identified for significant alteration or enhancement, and according to the draft plan, many are recommended to remain in their current state and function.
A conceptual site plan for the proposed improvements includes the relocation of the main entry to conincide with the new multipurpose event center, which is proposed for the northwest section of the site. That would allow the livestock zone to become a continuous segment allowing for easier movement between the buildings for competitors and spectators, according to the draft plan.
In that proposed plan, the new covered arena would be located just north of the Livestock Pavilion to provide direct access from the warm up ring to the performance ring.