By Bruce Sayler
Hoops will create Butte hoopla as the Montana Special Olympics state basketball tournament will return to The Mining City for a three-year run, beginning in 2019, Advantage Butte members were told Tuesday during their October meeting, held at the Butte Plaza Inn.
Bill Melvin, director of the Butte Civic Center, told the group the arena, as well as other basketball facilities around town, has already been booked for the tournament in November three-day stretches for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
He said organizers may be requesting financial support from Advantage Butte to cover expenses of holding the tournament in town. No such request have yet been received, it was noted, but the Butte group seemed eager to help.
The Special Olympics event was one of several items discussed in the short, but busy meeting. Melvin said the tournament, which has been held previously in Butte, draws more than 1,000 participants plus coaches and supporters to the host community.
Matt Stepan, Montana Tech athletic director, said the college’s host role for the Harlem Globetrotters Butte appearance this year came at the Globetrotters’ request. The touring basketball comedy troupe usually plays larger venues but the date it wanted for its Butte stop, November 16, was not available on the Civic Center calendar, Stepan said. The arena had already been committed to the Winter Bazaar, according to the posted schedule. Stepan said the Globetrotters then called Montana Tech to request they be able to play at HPER Complex, and an agreement was reached.
Rody Holman, Advantage Butte president and PayneWest Insurance representative to the organization, reported $26,094.63 is in the checking account, and that there are $5,000 committed this year and $3,000 still from last year.
Holman also said Advantage Butte has submitted a request to the Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners for a funding grant to help in procuring top sports events to town as economic development.
“I think it stands very well in public return on the money,” Holman said about the request.
He said about $65,000 to $70,000 is available in the grant pool and that the commissioners “are dealing with a lot of requests.”
Advantage Butte annually forwards such a request and has received economic development grant money of varying amounts.Holman said Advantage Butte is always appreciative for the aid.
The group discussed hospitality ideas for playing host to the Montana High School Association’s annual meetings, which are scheduled for January 19-21 at the Butte Copper King Hotel & Convention Center. It will be the first time in several years the meetings have been held in Butte, the last time also having been at the Copper King Inn.
Melvin suggested Advantage Butte take on a host role for an event. A social or football viewing party (NFL playoffs on a big-screen TV) were among the ideas, with input from Copper King rep Amanda Leese. It was also mentioned the Advantage Butte staff its usual information booth it normally sets up at MHSA meetings when held at other venues. Melvin and Dorea Wilmoth, Advantage Butte secretary and Comfort Inn/Town Pump rep, brought the possibility of putting up another booth it could share with the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce. Stephanie Sorini, executive director of the Chamber, agreed to the idea.
Decisions on policies, venues and formats for Montana high school extracurricular activities are discussed and sometimes made at the convention. Almost every high school in the state is usually represented by at least one administrator.
Sorini is also the owner of the Butte 100 mountain bike race and said July 27 has been confirmed as the date for the 2019 event. She said she recently signed a 5-year permit renewal with the U.S. Forest Service for the course, and is actively looking for race sponsors.
“We’ve had good feedback for the 2018 race,” she said.
Stepan noted that the Montana Tech college basketball season is about to begin with a men’s game on Saturday (vs. Yellowstone Christian) and a women’s game on October 25 (also vs. Yellowstone Christian).
As spokesman for the Butte Wrestling Club, Stepan said signups for the youth mats program will be held the first week of December with practices to begin the first week of January.
Wilmoth relayed a message from Butte-Silver Bow Parks & Recreation Director J.P. Gallagher that work on the Stodden Park tennis courts has been delayed by frost. The courts will not be ready until sometime in the spring, she said he told in an e-mail. Gallagher was unable to attend the Advantage Butte meeting due to a schedule conflict.
Holman set the next Advantage Butte meeting for November 20 at the Butte Plaza Inn.