Advantage Butte talks volunteers and tournaments

Volunteerism and tournaments were among the topics mentioned or discussed during the May meeting of Advantage Butte held Tuesday at the Butte Plaza Inn.
The two are conjoined when being worked and administered. The state Class B high school golf tournament being held next Tuesday and Wednesday, May 20-21, at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is in serious need of volunteer help, while postseason track meets about to be held in The Mining City could also use a hand, organizers said.
The golf volunteers are needed to monitor the groups of players as they tour the course, Chad Petersen, Butte Central activities director said. Petersen can be contacted at 782-8084 or 498-5000. Help can also be used for the Eastern AA Divisional track meet May 23-24 on the Charlie Merrifield Track at Bulldog Memorial Stadium, and also for the state Class A-B high school track meet on the same oval a week later, May 30-31. Contact Petersen for the State A-B meet or Chuck Merrifield at Butte High School for the Eastern AA Divisional to offer help.
Advantage Butte past president Ron Davis, of Butte Broadcasting, updated attendees about state basketball tournaments the group gained for The Mining City. The Butte Civic Center will be the site of the state Class AA tournament next March and also for the state Class B tourney in March of 2016. Both tournaments are actually two tourneys — crowning champions in boys’ and in girls’ brackets.
Competition for the tournaments is intense among Montana’s venues as they provide economic boons to the host cities and sometimes advantages for teams who qualify for them from within the area. Davis said The Metra arena in Billings has notified the Montana High School Association, which governs state high school sports and awards the tournaments, that it will begin charging a fee for each ticket sold at an MHSA event in The Metra. Money generated from the fee is to be kept by The Metra, Davis said. He added that such might cause the MHSA to consider the other potential hosts, such as Butte, even more intently because of the financials involved.
Don Peoples Jr., director of the Maroon Activities Center, reported that Butte has lost one tournament, at least for the time being. He said District 11/12-C has notified him that it will take the 2015 boys’ and girls’ basketball tournament to the Manhattan Christian school gym at Churchill. He said a Bozeman group is helping to fund the hosting of the tourney.
Peoples said the district expressed some dissatisfaction with Butte and the MAC and wanted to look at giving another place a chance to play host. It was noted, too, that 11/12-C school officials have been under pressure from some members to move the tourney closer to the Bozeman area so that the schools may afford to transport groups, such as pep bands, in addition to their teams to the tourneys.
“This is a sizable loss of income for the MAC and for the community,” Peoples said.
Davis said most district tournaments are able to return only about 30 percent of money spent on expenses back to the school and that divisionals usually return about 60 percent. He said events held at the MAC have been returning about 70 percent due to Advantage Butte underwriting the competitions. Meeting attendants expressed interest as to how the tourney will do, comparatively, at its new location.
The MAC remains, however, the venue for the Western C Divisional boys’ and girls’ basketball and girls’ volleyball tournaments.
Davis suggested proposing to area Class B entities that they consider maybe moving their districts and/or divisional to the Butte facility. Area neighbor Anaconda will be joining the Class B ranks, District 6-B, in the 2015-16 school year.
“If we sweeten the pot, we have a better chance at getting those things,” he said.
Advantage Butte treasurer Brad Spear of Anderson ZurMuehlen and Co. said $20,331.96 sits in the sports procuring organization’s checking account while having $11,500 in outstanding commitments.
Advantage Butte president Desiree Shogren of the Comfort Inn told the group volunteers are also needed for the Kiwanis Club Bike Rodeo set for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Civic Center parking lot.
Petersen reminded that the annual LaVerne Combo Invitational high school girls’ softball tournament will be put on by Butte Central this Friday and Saturday at Butte fields. The entry list shows 25 teams — all 22 current Class A programs as well as the Class B-C teams from Choteau, Cut Bank and Deer Lodge.
Petersen added that Liza Dennehy and her timing crew have volunteered to provide and operate the time clock and reader board for the State A-B meet. “They don’t have to do that and they certainly have my appreciation,” Petersen praised.
Peoples said the MAC continues to be busy with tournaments and gatherings, including a Tae Kwon Do tourney last weekend. A boys’ basketball tourney for eight high school varsity and eight junior varsity teams is planned for the arena on June 8. A girls’ one is planned for two weeks later. He added that Butte Central will hold a celebration for 100 years of Butte Central athletics on July 15-16 and about 1,000 persons are expected to participate. He said he wants to work through Advantage Butte-member lodging businesses first for housing those participants coming in from out of town.
Kelly Howery of the Butte Soccer Club said the spring season is about halfway over and that a state training event for U16 and U14 girls from around the state is set for Sunday at the Jeremy Bullock Memorial Soccer Complex.
Chuck Merrifield reminded the group that the city grade school track meet will be held Wednesday. Also, the date, time and venue for Butte High’s state softball playoff series remains undetermined due to the tightness of the Eastern AA Conference standings. Butte High’s All-Sports Banquet is planned for May 28 at the Civic Center.
Philip Borup, chief executive director of the Butte Family YMCA, said 250 persons, including 150 walkup registrants, participated in the Easter Day Swim at the Y’s pool, but that numbers were a bit down for the Big Butte Run, likely because of the inclement weather of the day. He said he is contacting running clubs from around the state and area to try to get Butte running events on their calendars and increase entries. School swim and water safety classes are being continued at the Y. Borup said soccer program signups and summer camp signups are ongoing at the Y. He said summer camps will be themed with a different type each week and so weekly signups will be conducted. He said a study in Bozeman by Montana State University said children who participated in the Bozeman YMCA summer camps were 20 percent better prepared for school when it resumed in the fall.
Charles Tuss, representing the Butte Tarpon Swim Team, said the group is bidding on three meets and hoping for help from Advantage Butte in the process. The Senior Championships Meet in November, the state B-C meet in February and the state long course meet in March are the targets, he said. The plan would also call for combining the senior championships with the annual Tarpon Invitational normally held in November, he said. Tuss said should the Tarpons be unable to land the three meets, then the club would like to play host to another invitational in January instead.
Borup interjected that the chamber of commerce formula for figuring economic impacts reflects that each meet is worth $400,00 to $500,000 to a community.
“It could be up to $600,000 for all three,” he said.
Shogren responded that the Advantage Butte executive board will have an answer to the Tarpons’ proposal by Thursday.
The next meeting of Advantage Butte is scheduled for June 17 at the Butte Plaza Inn.

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