BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Bozeman Parks and Recreation Department tells NBC Montana they've already started the process of closing on the land for a brand new sports complex.
Commissioners approved spending $7.5 million to begin construction of a 22-field complex last night. The park would be located on 80 acres of land on Bozeman's northwest side just East of Flanders Mill Road, between Baxter Lane and Oak Street.
But there are still quite a few steps before the city can break ground. They need to figure out water rights for irrigation and do an environmental analysis. Both have to be done before a June 30 closing deadline. After that the city will finalize the design as well as plans to expand nearby streets and utilities.
The city hopes all of that can be done by next year.
Bozeman Parks and Recreation Director Mitch Overton said, "This comes at a time of need, for sure. I think it's going to be a great addition to the city's park system. And one for many years to come."
The Parks and Rec Department is hoping is that, when completed, the sports complex will allow Bozeman to hold regional sports tournaments. Tournaments mean tourists and big business.
We visited with local establishments to learn what impacts the coming complex could have.
Tom Stenzel owns Western Heritage Inn in Bozeman. He recalled when Montana State University hosted the Class B State Basketball Tournament just last month.
Stenzel laughed, "Did I have a full house? Yes. Am I happy about that? Yes, I am."
Stenzel is well aware of the city's plans to create a sports complex capable of hosting large events like tournaments.
According to an economic impact analysis of the complex prepared by the Northern Rocky Economic Development District, building the sports complex could create as many as 145 permanent jobs.
Tom Stenzel told us, "Having 18 rooms versus filling up means I've got a full staff earning a living."
But local hotels aren't the only ones that would see a bump in business if tourists fill the streets.
"They don't have anywhere else to eat," said MacKenzie River Pizza Company Assistant Manager Luke Remsik. "So they come out to eat which affects us positively."
Remsik says when large groups of visitors come to Bozeman things get so busy he sometimes has to turn away people he simply can't make room for.
One estimate from the Montana Institute for Travel and Recreation Research found the park could bring restaurants another $1.6 million.
Remsik added, "It looks like a good thing for Bozeman. Could be a good thing for all of the business to bring more people to town."
Stenzel believes the sports park will attract people from across the state and beyond. And he says that is good for everyone.
Stenzel exclaimed, "There's a lot of interest. And there's a lot of people who travel with children. And they spend a lot of money!"
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