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Shrine Auditorium in Billings sold to Native American Development Corporation

Posted at 11:15 AM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 15:37:14-04

BILLINGS - The Al Bedoo Shrine Auditorium on Broadwater Avenue, which has been on the market since early last year, has been sold.

The Native American Development Corporation (NADC) announced Thursday in a press release it has purchased the property that for years hosted numerous community events, including high school basketball and the circus.

The corporation announced it purchased the property for $2.2 million. It was initially put on the market for $2.49 million.

“This building is the new chapter in our growth that will have incredible opportunities for the Native American community to access entrepreneurial services, cultural events, medical services and much more," NADC Chief Executive Officer Leonard Smith said in a statement. "This is a long time coming and we're ready to get started."

The NADC will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. Thursday.

RELATED: Billings Shriners selling historic auditorium

Read the full press release here:

The Native American Development Corporation (NADC) has purchased the Shrine Auditorium building and surrounding property at 1125 Broadwater Avenue in Billings, Montana.

The 50,000 square-foot property includes the main building with an auditorium and several large rooms that have traditionally been rented out. The property also includes a separate 5,000 square-foot shop and parking lot that sits on a 5.46 acre parcel lot.

The NADC is honored and excited to continue the proud history of this property as a landmark cultural center in the Billings community. Since its construction in 1949, the property has been a venue for many events ranging from the circus to concerts to high school sports tournaments.

The NADC funded the $2.2 million purchase in part through a loan from the Native American Bank in Denver, Colorado. The group is developing a master plan and conducting feasibility studies to determine next steps but has earmarked $800,000 for immediate investment in upgrades to facilities and to make much-needed repairs.

“Our goal is to continue the legacy of this property as a cultural center in the heart of Billings,” said NADC Chief Executive Officer, Leonard Smith. “Given our mission, the focus will be on Native American culture, wellbeing and wellness, but we aim to be great neighbors and stewards of this historic property. The property will continue being a resource for the entire community, just in a different way.”

A hub for American Indian businesses, NADC is a non-profit organization that provides technical assistance, financial lending opportunities, and champions small businesses and tribes. Most recently, the NADC has ventured into urban Native American health care with this same vision.

“This building is the new chapter in our growth that will have incredible opportunities for the Native American community to access entrepreneurial services, cultural events, medical services and much more," said Smith. "This is a long time coming and we’re ready to get started."

Plans for the property include housing existing programs and building out spaces to foster culture, wellness and entrepreneurship in the community. Potential uses that have been discussed include:

  • Physical therapy, diabetes and other health programs
  • A full-service medical clinic, staffed by an MD, nurses and medical assistants
  • Behavioral health programs
  • Youth and senior activities and programs
  • Sports activities and programs
  • Educational programs such as small business and life skills training
  • Job fairs, trade shows and cultural events
  • Services to support Native American teens with suicide prevention
  • Craft and card rooms

“Native American culture is an important part of the history of the region, and something we have always shared with those who wanted to learn,” said NADC Chief Operating Officer Mary Walks Over Ice. “Native Americans represent 10 percent or more of Billings’ population, rivaling the numbers found on most reservations. This center will provide a place to gather and be together. Our purchase of this building that is so vital to the Billings community is a big step for us and the beginning of something special. We take this responsibility very seriously and understand we’re making a statement that we are also a vital part of the Billings community.”

History of the property

The historic building has been home to the Billings chapter of Shriners International since 1949. The Shriners put the building up for sale in 2021. Over the decades, it's been a venue for a whole variety of events — everything from high school big band jazz shows to the annual Festival of Trees Christmas fundraiser to hundreds of concerts ranging from Snoop Dogg to Bob Dylan and George Jones.

About the NADC

The Native American Development Corporation (NADC) was established in 1996 to act as a liaison for state, regional, national and international economic development organizations and agencies for American Indian-owned businesses in Montana, Wyoming and North and South Dakota.

The NADC offers a wide range of community services for the Native American population, including healthcare, technical training and business loans. For over 25 years, Native American entrepreneurs, individuals, families, businesses and communities have utilized NADC programs for expertise, programs and resources.