Fairgrounds Redevelopment

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Let us know what you think about the Fairgrounds redevelopment, share your stories and take a quick poll!

For over 100 years the Missoula County Fairgrounds has provided community connection, agricultural learning, and recreational opportunities. But now the vast 46 acres in the center of Missoula need revitalization and stewardship. Together, we can create a space for future generations to access year-round agricultural education programs like 4-H/FFA and community ice rinks. We can promote local food security while providing new opportunities for culture, fun, and relaxation. Whether it's animals, science, ice sport, or vintage markets, the vision shared by our

Let us know what you think about the Fairgrounds redevelopment, share your stories and take a quick poll!

For over 100 years the Missoula County Fairgrounds has provided community connection, agricultural learning, and recreational opportunities. But now the vast 46 acres in the center of Missoula need revitalization and stewardship. Together, we can create a space for future generations to access year-round agricultural education programs like 4-H/FFA and community ice rinks. We can promote local food security while providing new opportunities for culture, fun, and relaxation. Whether it's animals, science, ice sport, or vintage markets, the vision shared by our community is for kids, families, and seniors to connect at the Fairgrounds through education and play.

Phase 1

  • In 2016 and 2017, after a far reaching public process the Board of County Commissioners adopted a masterplan and design guidelines for Fairgrounds renovations. Five years later Phase 1 is nearly complete. Phase 1 projects total $34 million and were funded by three major sources: a special district for the Fairgrounds, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, and substantial private fundraising.
  • Completed work includes historic renovations to the Commercial, Culinary, and Home Arts buildings, new sewer and water systems, new concessions, new trail networks and plazas, and new maintenance facilities. The final hallmark of phase 1 commenced in 2021 with the groundbreaking of the new Rocky Mountain Gardens and Exploration Center, future home of the Missoula County Extension & Weed District and Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium that will include Montana’s first tropical butterfly house and 2.5 acres of education gardens.

Phase 2a

  • Phase 2a is expected to begin in 2024, if funding is secured. It will include a new Livestock & Equestrian Pavilion, a new third sheet of ice, and renovations to the existing two rinks.
  • Sharing the current space between Glacier Ice Rink and 4H/FFA was once a realistic strategy. But as Missoula has grown and ice sports and 4-H/FFA have expanded, the success of the programs has become restricted by limitations in time and space. Both partners are tested by an antiquated endeavor that causes operational and safety challenges for people and animals.
  • The Missoula County 4-H Council and Livestock Committee along with local FFA leaders have worked with architects to design an 80,000-square-foot indoor Livestock & Equestrian Pavilion dedicated to year-round youth agricultural education. It will offer a flexible, multi-use space that will generate revenue from additional indoor arena sporting events, breed association shows, and expanded equestrian and cattle events. The project will cost $8 million.
  • Meanwhile, representatives from the ice community including figure skaters, curlers, hockey enthusiasts, and recreational skaters worked with an ice rink architect to develop a realistic approach to achieving their long time vision of having a third ice sheet of ice on the Fairgrounds. The new ice facility would have an NHL sized rink, gender separated locker rooms, comfortable spectator areas, increased seating for events, and more efficient refrigeration systems. This group also created a plan to rehabilitate the existing rinks to ensure they are safe and efficient. The total cost for ice in phase 2 will be about $14 million.

Phase 2b

  • Phase 2b will be paid for primarily with private donations. It includes a new Arena & Grandstands that will cost about $3 million. The Fairgrounds Foundation, a non-governmental charitable organization, is leading the effort and donations are tax deductible. Fundraising for the Heritage Campaign is going well and the project is hoping to break ground in 2024.
  • The current rodeo arena is more than 60 years old — well beyond its useful life for contestants, stock, and spectators. The worn facilities severely limit the number of users and operational flexibility. Working with the rodeo community and stock contractors, the new 72,000-square-foot outdoor Arena & Grandstands will rest south of the current arena and is designed with seating for 2,500 spectators, box offices, modern audio visual infrastructure, concessions, and ample space for staging, penning, and feeding stock. Like the new Livestock & Equestrian Pavilion, it will be a flexible, multi-use space that will generate revenue from a wide variety of high-energy arena spectator events.
  • The Fairgrounds entertains thousands every year as home to the University of Montana Rodeo Team, the Missoula Stampede Rodeo, and other sporting traditions. Our college rodeo team enjoys prominence as one of the premier rodeo organizations in the region. Team members have appeared at the College National Finals Rodeo every year since 1990, either as individuals or as an entire team. And the century-old Missoula Stampede Rodeo is one of the most legendary and respected rodeos on the pro circuit. Every year, the Stampede hosts some of the best contestants in the world, including many Montanans on their way to world titles.
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Page last updated: 28 Apr 2022, 10:20 PM