By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Montana State University-Northern officials presented a site plan for the proposed special events center at a meeting Monday attended by local residents and business people.
A committee that includes representatives of city and county government, MSU-N and Havre Public Schools has been studying the possibility of building the center somewhere in Havre. The committee on Feb. 14 narrowed a list of six proposed site down to two - the university campus and the Hill County Fairgrounds.
University officials presented a site map locating the events center on the site of the football practice field, adjacent to the Student Union Building. The site would include more than 800 parking spaces.
MSU-N Chancellor Alex Capdeville told the committee the university is "not in competition with the community. If it's better somewhere else, that's where it should be."
He also said that while the college could provide food and maintenance services to the facility if it were located on campus, it did not have to. Havre businesses could be tapped for such services.
Fair manager Tim Solomon said the Great Northern Fair Board has not yet determined a possible location for the center at the fairgrounds. The board will meet in the Hill County Courthouse basement on March 15 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the location.
Several people in attendence suggested the events center could be part of a larger master plan to revamp the fairgrounds by moving some buildings and demolishing others. Solomon said the idea should be considered.
Bear Paw Development Corp. executive director Paul Tuss said the two most prevalent issues with the events center are cost and location. He said the group will be "aggressive" in soliciting private and public money for the project and that the possibility of getting public funding is "probably more realistic."
"We want to focus our next meeting on the costs of the facility and the finances needed to build it," Tuss said.
The committee will next meet on March 21 at 10 a.m. in the U.S. Bank meeting room.
The committee hired Minneapolis-based Creative Sports and Leisure in 2003 to study whether the city could support a special events center. The study concluded that Havre could be home to a center with seating for 6,000 people.
On Feb. 7 a subcommittee was formed to study six possible sites mentioned by the consultant. The subcommittee, however, did not consider the university as a site because it was believed the campus could not offer adequate parking or access. After hearing arguments from MSU-N officials, the committee decided on Feb. 14 to narrow the list to two: MSU-N and the Hill County Fairgrounds.