By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
People from Havre and the Hi-Line have an opportunity next week to comment about a study that supports building a special events center in Havre.
Debbie Vandenberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, said the steering committee for the project is excited about the study.
"It's optimistic," she said.
The steering committee is trying to determine if it is feasible to build an events center in Havre. The chamber in 2002 began investigating whether Havre should build a center similar to MetraPark in Billings or the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls to hold sporting events, concerts, trade shows, conventions, plays, conferences, annual meetings and other events.
Bill Krueger of Creative Sports & Leisure International, a Minneapolis-based firm that wrote the study with CTA Architects and Engineers of Montana, will join representatives of CTA to hold the meetings. One is set for Monday at 7 p.m. in the Hingham Community Center, and the other will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Holiday Village Shopping Center Community Room in Havre.
Bear Paw Development Corp. executive director Paul Tuss said the meetings have two purposes.
"It's really to unveil the project," he said. "Also, very importantly, to collect public comments and answer questions."
The steering community includes representatives of the chamber, city and county government, Montana State University-Northern and Havre Public Schools.
Tuss said people's comments will be important for fine-tuning the study.
"(The consultants are) telling us this is feasible with conditions. Obviously, location and cost are major factors in how we do this or if we do this," he said.
Krueger's presentation will include an analysis of possible sites. CTA will present design options, including cost considerations.
The next step will be for the steering committee to look at the comments from the meeting and map the next steps to take, Tuss said.
The study found that the Havre area could support a facility with a minimum 15,000-square-foot area for athletic events and floor shows, and initially recommended having 5,000 to 6,000 seats. The steering committee asked the firm to look at expanding the seating slightly so it could better compete with large school gymnasiums in north-central Montana with 4,000 seats or more.
The study recommended using removable hardwood flooring, sport event lighting and scoreboard equipment, and including 2,500 to 5,000 square feet of additional meeting space. The meeting space could be divided into smaller meeting rooms.
The study examined several locations for the center, including Montana State University-Northern, north of Havre Middle School, at the Hill County Fairgrounds and west of town near Kmart.
The study concluded that for the center to be successful, being near hotels and restaurants and shopping would be crucial. Several of the sites, including the golf resort Quantum Five Inc. proposed building east of town, are rated contingent on hotels being built nearby.
The Quantum Five site has the best rating if the resort is built, but is the lowest-rated site if the resort is not built.
Quantum Five took out a mortgage to buy the land in the 1990s, but has never announced any plans to move forward with construction of the resort.