The University of Montana Grizzlies are set to host a quarterfinal playoff game against Furman University on Friday evening, and fans in Billings are getting creative to make sure Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula is packed for football.
A group of Billings business owners have teamed up to collect tickets, which will all be donated to some unsuspecting fans.
The idea first came from season ticket holder Kelsey Meier, who owns and operates an event planning company in Billings called Adorn, when she realized the Friday night kick-off wouldn't work with her schedule.
"Yeah, unfortunately, I have an event so I couldn't have made it up there," Meier said Tuesday morning. "So I just felt like anything I could do to help this team and fill Washington-Grizzly stadium, make it look great on a national stage, is great."
Meier posted on Facebook, explaining that she had two tickets available for anyone who could swing the game. In her post, she also encouraged other business owners or season ticket holders to do the same.
"I just love Grizzly football," Meier said. "It has brought me and my family a tremendous amount of entertainment and memories over the years, so this was just a chance to spread those experiences to others."
The post quickly garnered the attention of many, and one by one, businesses began stepping up.
"Honestly, it just snowballed from there," Meier said. "Business owners got a hold of me, and it's been really cool to see."
Among those who reached out to Meier were Brian Hafner and Lynn Tucker. Hafner works at Universal Lending Home Loans, while Tucker is the owner of Camelot Ranch. Both had conflicts that made it impossible to attend the game and jumped at the chance to get other fans inside.
"When she asked me to help, I was more than happy too," Tucker said.
"She reached out to me and asked if I'd like to be involved and I was like, 'Yeah. I'm really excited to get more people up there," Hafner said.
Hafner's four-year-old son could be seen walking around Missoula in costume as Monte, the Griz mascot, just a few weeks ago for the game against the Montana State Bobcats, but this weekend, he'll be doing a different type of performance.
"He's got his first kind of Christmas play ever," Hafner said. "So yeah, I love the Griz, but family comes first."
As for Tucker's conflict, she's hosting a wedding on Saturday. Her son is currently a freshman on the team, so she said much of her focus will be in Missoula.
"My heart is there of course watching the players and supporting them," Tucker said. "The more people we can get in there and the louder it gets, we just want to continue to do that."
Meier expects to end up providing seats for at least 50 people Friday. She said it's a testament to the spirit and generosity of Montana.
"Montanans are so generous and so giving and for people to be able to do this, it warms your heart," Meier said. "It makes you feel good."