Basketball is good for the local economy -- if numbers from the state Class AA tournament over the weekend in Butte are an indication.
The three-day event attracted an estimated 5,000 fans per day, officials said Monday.
“Even without a Butte team playing, it was wonderful,” said Bill Melvin, Civic Center manager.
Tournament visitors stay in motels, buy food and gas, go shopping -- and purchase tickets to the games.
Had pre-tourney favorite Missoula Hellgate advanced to the boys’ championship, the Civic Center might have sold out, but Great Falls upset the Knights on Thursday. Ultimately, the Knights took third place.
Saturday’s championship between Billings Skyview and Billings West drew about 1,250 fewer fans than the Civic Center capacity of 6,250, said Melvin.
Still, the tournament brought people to Butte for the weekend who normally wouldn’t be here.
Twenty-two games were played at the Civic Center plus another two at Butte High School.
Much of the help putting on the tournament is by volunteers.
“We do not do this without a volunteer effort from everybody in this room,” Melvin told Advantage Butte members Monday at Perkins Restaurant. “I don’t know how else we’d pull it off. Nobody does it quite like Butte does.”
The Tourism Business Increment District, which imposes $1 surcharge per night per motel room, underwrote extra costs for scorers, security police officers and overtime for county staff, said Melvin. He declined to give the full dollar amount.
Next, school districts across the state will bid on 2017 tournaments, but Butte has already confirmed 2016 tournaments won through the Montana High School Association:
The 16-team state Class B boys and girls basketball tournament is scheduled for March 10 through 12, 2016. The combined “Super” divisional Class A boys and girls basketball tournament is Feb. 24 through 28, 2015.
Due to divisional restructuring, the Northwest A and Southwest A divisional will be combined and include nine teams, said Brian Michelotti, MHSA assistant director.
As for future tournaments in Butte, Melvin said organizers are giving it their best shot.
“We will bid every tourney, of course, with the help of the TBID,” he added.
“Our community does such a good job of working together,” added Melvin. “People from out of town were mentioning it at the tournament.