BILLINGS – The NAIA women’s basketball tournament will be held in Billings through 2020, a year longer than its original contract, local officials announced this week.
Visit Billings and Rocky Mountain College said in a joint statement that the success of the 32-team tournament the past two years at MetraPark convinced NAIA officials to add the 2020 tournament. It had originally been scheduled only through 2019.
"We are grateful to have such a great host in Visit Billings that continues to help us showcase this premier sport,” said Jim Carr, NAIA president and CEO, in a news release.
The move allows the NAIA to extend its run in Billings through the life of the 32-team tournament. Starting in 2021, following a change in bylaws, only 16 teams will compete in the national tournament.
The NAIA (short for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) first held its tournament in Billings following an aggressive recruitment effort by local groups, including Visit Billings, the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District, Rocky Mountain College and MetraPark.
Visit Billings has touted the tournament as a boon for hoteliers, restaurants and the area’s entire hospitality industry. Teams arriving from different parts of the country have also sent players to local schools and otherwise embraced the Billings community.