Advantage Butte focuses on rodeo, talks tourneys

The Butte Civic Center staff is ready to ride into the arena with its biggest event of the year, manager Bill Melvin, said of the Northern Rodeo Association Finals.
Melvin told Tuesday’s September meeting of Advantage Butte and The Metals Sports Bar & Grill that the Oct. 8-10 generates the largest crowds over a three-day span of any event on the Civic Center calendar.
He urged the community show its support for the event. The NRA recently signed a new three-year agreement with the Civic Center to hold its championship rodeo in the arena.
The rodeo is one of several top sports events Advantage Butte brings to the city for economic development purposes.
With the flurry of enrollment classification changes in recent years has come wonderment over sitings of postseason tournaments for Montana High School sports, particularly in the divisional and district concepts.
The western Montana area alone has seen Anaconda, Bigfork, Eureka, Libby and Ronan all drop to Class B from Class AA in recent times while Darby, Ennis, Manhattan Christian, Missoula Valley Christian, Seeley-Swan and Superior have gone to Class C from Class B. Arlee was also a Class B member for a short time. Class C football has seen a number of schools with tumbling enrollment go to six-man programs from eight-man alignments. Among them have been Lima, West Yellowstone, Lincoln, Sheridan, Alberton, St. Regis and Hot Springs.
The state’s population shifts have reflected the enrollment changes with, for the most part, the larger Class AA and bigger Class A schools benefitting with increased attendance.
As a result, competitive alignment is always being eyed by the sports-governing Montana High School Association (MHSA) and members try to prepare.
Advantage Butte is among the entities looking for how to read the future so it can attempt to capitalize on any new chances to play host to events that produce business for The Mining City.
Among those scheduled for Butte this school year are the Western A Divisional golf tournament next week at the Fairmont Hot Springs resort, the Western C Divisional high school volleyball tournament in early November at the Maroon Activities Center and the Western A SuperDivisional boys’ and girls’ basketball tournament in February at the Civic Center.
The changing of classification memberships also changes the geography of the conference borders. The far western reaches now seem more laden with Class C than the area nearer to Butte. Also, Southwestern Montana has become more popular as a Class B region.
Some very preliminary discussion Tuesday concerned whether District 6-B, which added Anaconda this school year and also includes Deer Lodge, would be interested in perhaps using Butte as a state qualifier venue. Ronan, St. Ignatius, Missoula Loyola and Florence are the other members of the league.
It would seem chances would be surer if other nearby Class B schools such as Whitehall, Boulder, Three Forks and Manhattan were part of the mix, but they are in District 6-B, meaning Butte is just past the western edge of one district and just past the eastern edge of the other. Administrators usually look for more centralized spots to gather for tournaments and meets for economic reasons tied to travel expenses.
Also, talk began last spring about the chances of some Class C realignment with Drummond and Philipsburg now being the longest trips in District 13-C from western schools like Darby and Victor. The 13-C and 14-C might even be combined with the western members of 12-C, then divided into three districts in a realignment plan. The dropdown of Manhattan Christian and the addition of Lone Peak at Big Sky has made for a District 11/13-C more heavily connected to the Bozeman/Livingston area with population spreads bound toward Billings. Therefore, Ennis, Harrison, Lima, Sheridan and Twin Bridges might find some travel relief in combining with Philipsburg and Drummond for a district that would find Butte at its central location for competitions.
However, the talk has been nothing more than conjecture and no plans are known to have been finalized, those attending the meeting reminded and were reminded.
Melvin said the Civic Center would be submitting a formal request to Advantage Butte for funding to help put on the SuperDivisional. Ron Davis, Advantage Butte board member and Butte Broadcasting representative, responded that $6,000 has been set aside to help. The tourney will be of 18 teams — nine boys’ and nine girls’ — with seven games a day scheduled for a four-day span. Melvin said costs for manning the scorer’s table will run into the $4,000 range and said he was grateful to Advantage Butte for the commitment.
Advantage Butte holds $28,355 in its checking account of which $17,400 has been committed for coming event underwriting, said treasurer Brad Spear of Anderson Zurmuehlen and Co. Spear added the group is still awaiting, too, a cash gift to come from the from the dissolution of Evel Knievel Days Inc. Advantage Butte was told of the donation last spring early in the dissolution process.
Group members discussed recruiting more members for Advantage Butte. Jeff Gorman of McDonald’s suggested more media representation and others talked about asking former members to come back and new businesses in town to be approached. Spear and Davis said membership numbers have fallen to about 20 from 32 when Advantage Butte began.
“This group brings an awfully lot of business to town for them,” Gorman said.
Davis, who heads both Butte Broadcasting and buttesports.com, said he was open to more media being involved.
“Other radio stations and TV should be involved,” he said.
Davis’ companies and The Montana Standard newspaper are the only media businesses with memberships in Advantage Butte.
Philip Borup of the Butte Family YMCA said plans are for the Y to expand its Active 6 activities program for Butte sixth-graders to Active Teens for seventh- and eighth-graders. He also said flag football and youth soccer programs have started. Borup added a the Y’s triathlon was held over the weekend and involved a good turnout, inspiring hopes to expand it in the future to a more regional event in hopes of drawing 100 to 150 entrants. He also said he wants to expand the organization’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament after a positive experience with holding one recently. The busy facility has also formed a swim club, he said, with hopes of melding in into the local swim team and high school team programs for development opportunities. He said talks are going on with the other involved groups about the possibility.
Information about the Butte YMCA programs and fees can be found on its website.
Butte Central will be the host for the Western A Divisional golf tournament on Sept. 26 at Fairmont Hot Springs. Davis said volunteers are needed to serve as markers (stroke counters) for the meet and anyone interested should contact Chad Petersen, Butte Central activities director, at 782-8084 or chadpetersen@gmail.com .
Marko Lucich of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce said the recent golf tournament co-sponsored as a fundraiser for the Chamber and Montana Tech drew 25 teams.
“That was the most since I’ve been with the Chamber,” the longtime director said.
He added that the Chamber will hold a color dash on Sept. 27 with hopes of “getting more students involved on a Sunday.”
Gina Evans of the Butte 100 mountain bike race was unable to attend the meeting, but e-mailed that she has been in negotiations with a tire company for race sponsorship next year. She said an announcement about such is expected to be made after the first of the year.
The next meeting of Advantage Butte is scheduled for Oct. 20 at the Butte Plaza Inn.

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Print this Page

Print Friendly, PDF & Email