Anyone who’s tried to play hockey in Missoula, youth or adult, knows it’s a constant battle to find ice time. Many league games start at 11:30 or later on weeknights because there’s only one ice sheet in the summer and two in the winter, with tens of thousands of people jockeying for the same small space at Glacier Ice Rink.
Popular agricultural activities in the Missoula area face the same dilemma, with not enough year-round, indoor space for 4-H events, livestock care, rodeo and equestrian activities. The two worlds often collide, because every summer the only ice rink in town has to be shut down in August during the Western Montana Fair so that the space can be used as, essentially, a livestock barn.
The conversion process takes several weeks, with three semi loads of wood chips getting hauled in, and all the skaters are out of luck for the month.
A rendering of the proposed ag and livestock center that could be built at the fairgrounds.
That’s why Missoula County Fairgrounds officials, fairgrounds user groups and other partners hope that county taxpayers will support a $19 million general obligation