Billings’ MetraPark at the Mercy of Chamber and Yellowstone County
Coming up on Thursday, August 18th, the Billings Chamber invites you to the Chamber AM event to discuss the Professional Venue Management of MetraPark.
What's the debate on MetraPark's future?
As you may recall, in recent months MetraPark Management has come under fire for its management of the venue, and county leaders are wanting to migrate the management of it to a private management company. As of last week, they are even seeking formal bids from interested management companies and soon will begin planning of documents for the official request for privatization.
Why Does Yellowstone County & The Billings Chamber Want To Mess with MetraPark?
It isn't necessarily the county that wants this to happen, however back in January in a 2-1 vote, Yellowstone County Commissioners approved a request to allow management firms to submit bids to take over MetraPark operations. Also in January, they held public comment on the proposed privatization, of which it was fairly split. Many are worried about our friends, and family, that work and pour their lives into the Metra year round, and if these private companies would keep them or not. Local vendors worry they may not be allowed to continue with operations during the fair. Many things have gone unanswered so far.
Where are we standing today?
What has me particularly concerned is this past Thursday's discussion with the commissioners. John Ostlund, an outspoken supporter of making this process transparent and FULLY investigated before making any sudden decisions, asked Commissioner Don Jones if the previous "dual paths" take (meaning two plans, one staying as it is with some changes, one going to a management company) was still on the table. Unfortunately, Commissioner Don Jones went BACK on his original statement, now saying it makes more sense to just move toward privatization. Though I will add, Jones also said they will only go to privatization if they can get the best agreement.
My BIGGEST issues
Here's the thing. I may be a smidge biased, but I truly love MetraPark and the Montana Fair. That venue and the events held there is a deep part of my 30 years in Montana. I've gotten to know many of the fantastic staff, their families, friends, and many others over the years working in Media. And I know they DO want the absolute BEST for MetraPark. Yet, our proudly Montanan commissioners think we should privatize it. To whom? Oh, yeah, that's the best part. Remember the LOVE Montanans have for Californians? (hah) The two companies, so far, that have expressed interest in controlling MetraPark are Oak View Group and ASM Global... Both are in Los Angeles, California. Catch my drift on where MetraPark is headed? Good.
Make YOUR voice heard!
If you've stuck around this long, I know YOU CARE about MetraPark, the staff, their families, and how Yellowstone County puts on a show. Make your voice heard on Thursday, August 18th, from 7:30 am to 9:00 am at the Northern Hotel.
YOU MUST REGISTER IF YOU WANT TO GO. The space is "limited" and you know they won't be streaming it for people to see, without coming in person. Click the button below to do so.
If you do attend, be prepared for the Chamber to parade around two people who also are not from Montana, but do have a bit of a background in managing large cities. Mayor Paul TenHaken, who is the mayor of Sioux Falls, SD, and Mayor Debbie Kling, of Nampa, Idaho. If it is my dollar, I think our commissioners should listen to the people... not Mayors from other states. And let's keep MetraPark LOCAL, and LOVED.