Montana State High School Tournament expected to bring economic spike to Billings

As wrestlers from high schools across the region set up for the Montana High School All-Class State Wrestling Tournament, the anticipation builds as those directly involved in the tournament know the magnitude of this weekend.

Billings West High Wrestling coach Jeremy Hernandez has been fortunate enough to both compete and now coach in one of the Treasure State's largest sporting events. 

Hernandez says "it's the biggest sporting event in the state of Montana, there will be anywhere from twelve to fourteen hundred people here watching over the weekend."

With such a high number of attendees each year, First Interstate Arena is one of the few venues that can host the tournament.  Marketing director of MetraPark Ray Massie says the economic impact the tournament brings is felt further than just the Metra.

"The total income that comes from the association itself is really pretty small, but the economic impact in the community is massive with the different restaurants, hotels, gasoline, all those types of benefits to go into the community, it measures in the millions of dollars," says Massie.

Less than a half mile away from First Interstate Arena is the Boothill Inn.  When people travel, lodging is a must which is why the Boothill Inn has been preparing for this weekend since last year.

"We have actually had people book a year in advance, they make their reservations before the leave for next year," says Lacie Gardner, assistant general manager.   "February is not the peak season so it really does help to have the extra boost in income coming from the wrestling tournament and being so close to the Metra puts us in a prime location."

The Montana High School All-Class State Wrestling Tournament will begin Friday and conclude on Saturday.

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