First Interstate Arena

First Interstate Arena, colloquially known as The Metra, is a multi-purpose arena located at MetraPark, the fairgrounds of Billings, Montana, USA. The arena has capacity for an audience of 12,000.[1] The arena hosts a variety of local sporting, musical, and other events. It has also hosted professional sporting competitions. In 2005, MetraPark Arena marked its 30th anniversary. The arena was renovated in 2010 and 2011 at a cost of $27 million.[2]

First Interstate Arena
Full nameFirst Interstate Arena at MetraPark
Former namesMontana Entertainment Trade and Recreation Arena (1975–1999)
MetraPark Arena (1999–2007)
Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark (2007-2019)
Location308 6th Avenue North
Billings, MT 59101-1500
OwnerYellowstone County
OperatorMetraPark
Capacity12,000
Construction
Opened1975
Renovated2010–2011 (cost $27 million)
Construction cost$11 million (1975)
Tenants
Billings Blazers (SHL) (1975–1977)
Billings Bighorns (WHL) (1977–1982)
Billings Volcanos (CBA) (1980–1983)
Montana Magic (CHL) (1983–1984)
Billings Marlboros (CHL) (1985–1986)
Billings Bulls (AWHL/NAHL) (1993–2006)
Billings RimRockers (IBA) (1998–2001)
Billings Outlaws (IFL) (2000–2010)
Billing Rims (AAPBL) (2005)
Billings Wolves (IFL) (2015–2016)
Website
www.metrapark.com

History

The arena was completed in 1975 and named the METRA, an acronym that stood for Montana Entertainment Trade and Recreation Arena.[3] Later the entire grounds surrounding the arena was named MetraPark, and the arena became MetraPark Arena. The naming rights were sold to Billings-based Rimrock Auto Group in 2007 and the arena went by the name Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.[4] It is owned by Yellowstone County. On June 20, 2010, a tornado dubbed the Father's Day Tornado hit the arena, causing major damage[5] In 2010–2011 the arena was remodeled, resulting in many new amenities such as improved acoustics, more restrooms and concession areas, and easier access from the parking areas. The arena is an energy efficient building with contemporary aesthetics. On April 10, 2011, with the outer arena still under construction, Elton John played the first concert in the Rimrock Auto Arena since the tornado.[6][7]

Name change

On February 21, 2007, Rimrock Auto Group announced a 10-year, US $1 million naming rights deal for the arena. Beginning July 1, 2007 it became known as the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.[8] On June 3, 2019, First Interstate Bank announced a 5-year US $875,000 naming rights deal for the arena.[9] The new name of the facility would be First Interstate Arena at MetraPark

Events

Concerts

First Interstate Arena at MetraPark hosts an average of 9–12 concerts each year. The Eagles have played two of the largest grossing concerts of all time at the building, eclipsing $1.4 million in tickets sold in June 2015.

Other notable entertainment to play at the arena include Aerosmith, Beach Boys, Black Sabbath, Carrie Underwood, Cher, Def Leppard, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Johnny Cash, John Denver, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Merle Haggard, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, Neil Diamond, Rush, Styx, Tim McGraw, Van Halen, Willie Nelson, Slayer and ZZ Top.[10]

John Denver from Colorado played there in '86, Nickelback from Alberta played there in '07, and the Foo Fighters from Seattle played there in 2017.

Annual

  • Montana State High School Wrestling Tournament – February
  • M.A.T.E (Montana Agri-Trade Expo) – February
  • Spring Home Improvement Show – March
  • MontanaFair – August
  • Fall Home Improvement Show – September
  • NILE (Northern International Livestock Exposition) Stock Show and Rodeo – October
  • Chase Hawks Memorial Rough Stock Rodeo – December
  • Every other year MetraPark host a Men's college basketball game between Montana State and Wyoming.

Sporting

First Interstate Arena at MetraPark has been home to two teams with the Indoor Football League IFL. The Billings Outlaws played in the league from 2000 to 2010 before disbanding following the June 2010 Father's Day tornado. In 2015, the league expanded adding the Billings Wolves but only lasted two seasons before folding as well.

MetraPark has hosted pre-season NBA games on a semi-regular basis. The Arena played host to the first ever game for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder on October 8, 2008 in a pre-season game against the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves prevailed 88–82.[11]

MetraPark is a longtime tour stop for the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series (known as the Bud Light Cup until 2003), which has visited the arena every year since 1996.

On August 1, 2004, MetraPark hosted Monster Jam Summer Heat, with Wild Bill Rivers defeating Captain's Curse in the racing finals and Grave Digger winning the freestyle event.

In the summer of 2005, MetraPark hosted tryouts for the All-American Professional Basketball League (AAPBL), a new minor basketball league. The tryouts took place from July 11 to 22, 2005. However, the league folded shortly thereafter.

MetraPark has also played host to various WWE, WCW and UWF wrestling events including a live televised WCW Monday Nitro television show on June 19, 2000.

In 2017, First Interstate Arena hosted the NAIA Women's DI Basketball Tournament.

U.S. presidential visits

References

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