BILLINGS- The idea of an outdoor music venue in Billings has been tossed around several times through the years, but this time the plans are drawn, and financing has been secured so a pavilion for downtown Billings will be near construction soon.
“So, we're not relying on taxpayer money. We're not taking any of that money and we won't be relying on anything. This is a privately owned business,” said Pub Station owner Sean Lynch, who's backing the project.
The plans were announced Tuesday morning to build an outdoor pavilion at 203 N. 17th Street in the up-and-coming East Billings Urban Renewal District.
Lynch is behind the concept, but he says it's really the community that made it a reality.
“You know, we just kind of started out with a concept,” he said. “We're just really lucky. We want to thank the Billings community because if they hadn't been so supportive of the Pub Station, we wouldn't be able to do this.”
The 3,000-capacity facility sits on a city block long by half a city block wide. Lynch envisions expanding beyond the Billings market to accommodate the interests of eastern Montana and northern Wyoming.
He says Billings has attracted the attention of major music acts in the past, but for some, there was never a space to perform.
“There's just a lot of events that we lost out on the last two summers because we didn't have a facility to do this,” said Lynch.
The closest major outdoor venue to this scale to compare is the Kettle House Amphitheatre in Missoula. That venue can hold as many as 4,250 and has attracted acts like Sheryl Crow, Death Cab for Cutie, Steve Miller Band and Brandi Carlile.
Still, Lynch says there’s a major difference between this and them.
“We are going to be an urban pavilion, so we're not going to be out in like a more wooded area, but so it's going to feel different,” he said. “But again, I do think that eastern Montana and western Montana are totally different.
Part of what makes this endeavor so special is the pavilion will act as a catalyst for more growth in the East Billings Urban Renewal District, known asr E-BURD.
“So many great opportunities for the E-BURD,” he said. “So, to me, we are downtown people, we have businesses downtown. We live downtown. This is what we live and breathe in buildings and there was no other spot that we're going to put this on the map people will start coming.”
The venue is really a first for eastern Montana, which could serve a dual purpose, serving as a destination for artists and fans in a dedicated environment.
And he says to attract the kinds of musicians Billings concert-goers may be craving, Lynch says people have to be willing to show their support.
“It's all about whether you guys show up or not. You know, so as a promoter, I promote what people want to go to. So that's what I always tell people if you want these artists to come, you need to start coming to shows that are like that and showing that you're interested in them. We'll book it,” he said.
The location will host an anticipated 25 to 30 events annually, Lynch said, and the project is slated for early 2022 construction and late summer opening.
The project is financed by First Interstate Bank. A&E Design takes the lead on design, and Etix has exclusive ticketing rights.