The Missoula County Fairgrounds hosts over 500 events every year, not counting events at the Glacier Ice Rink.

The staff and management have been providing these services at a facility that desperately needs improvement and upgrades, according to Missoula County Commissioner Nicole ‘Cola’ Rowley.

“A lot of people don’t know that the commercial and culinary buildings don’t have foundations under them and they’re about ready to fall down,” said Rowley. We actually will have to jack those buildings up and put foundations under them, and do an entire historic renovation and preservation, and that will be in Phase One. We’re also putting in utilities. People also don’t know that there’s a bunch of septic systems under the fairgrounds and we really don’t know where all the waste is going, so we’re bringing in proper sewer, water, and we’re burying overhead utilities. We’re putting in new concession stands, and the new Learning Center for weed and extension will also be built in Stage One.”

Rowley said there are technical finance issues at play to fund the improvements to the fairgrounds.

“What was proposed on Thursday was for us to create a special district,” she said. “Only the fairgrounds itself would be encompassed within this special district. Then we could use the district to centralize the revenue of the mill levies that are already in place for the fair to receive financing from banks for Phase One.”

Rowley said there was some pushback from residents in the area of the fairgrounds.

“There was a complaint on Thursday that the special district was being formed only including the land on it which precluded other people in the county from having the legal right to protest,” she said. “It’s not being formed as a taxing district for that intent because we have the authority under our mill cap to raise these mills. There is a 60 day comment period before the special district is confirmed. “

Rowley said the removal of the racetrack and the earthworks will begin this year as part of Phase One for the moving of the Glacier Ice Rinks off the corner, the livestock center and the new rodeo arena.

Attached, find a chart describing the fairgrounds redevelopment funding.