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Commissioners looking at next steps after MetraPark grandstand demolition

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Posted at 10:06 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 00:06:49-05

An opportunity to build and add to MetraPark could come about with the demolition of the grandstand, experts told Yellowstone County commissioners Wednesday in Billings.

Commissioners are looking a MetraPark master plan after deciding Tuesday that the grandstand would need to be removed.

Commissioner Denis Pitman, a Republican, said it's a chance to make some changes on the land between the grandstand and Yellowstone River.

Charlie Smith of Charles D. Smith Architecture and Planning, LLC in Tennessee, led a discussion about a potential master plan without the grandstand.

The meeting was in the Yellowstone Room in the grandstand.

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Smith helped with the idea for the Montana Pavilion and the Expo Center and commissioners asked him to come back.

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"We kind of threw it at him too, by the way. Now if you take the grandstands out of it, what are the potential opportunities there as well," said Pitman. "And that's where he said, 'well, if the grandstands aren't there then you can totally change this entire campus. You open up almost a hundred acres of flatland that are whatever you want it to be.'"

Some of Smith's ideas include expanding the Expo Center, replacing the grandstand and an equestrian complex.

Commissioners invited Smith to help with the design possibilities.

"With all of this being a blank canvas, we can say, 'ok, i know this is the way it was done but we can move roads. We can move fence entrances," Pitman said.

The grandstand dates back to 1949.

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"There's iconic and there's history in all of this," Pitman said. "But the potential for some amazing things in Billings- it's pretty exciting."

Pitman said commissioners will decide whether or not to go ahead with a master plan and what that will involve.

They will also soon start the request for proposals for the grandstand demolition.