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Sticker shock: Fans, families struggle to find affordable hotels in Bozeman for state tournament

Posted at 8:53 AM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 10:53:51-05

BOZEMAN - The state basketball tournament is drawing crowds from across the state to Bozeman. But some parents fear they wouldn't be able to come due to the high costs of hotels in Bozeman.

It's no surprise that things in Bozeman cost more, but for some parents finding a hotel to cheer on their kiddos at the state basketball tournament has made it a little harder.

“You are used to being able to be a fan and attend these events and not have to worry about the after,” says parent Pete Stiffarm.

The worry for parents of students of Harlem High School on the Hi-Line is the high cost of hotels.

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The state basketball tournament is drawing crowds from across the state to Bozeman. But some parents fear they wouldn't be able to come due to the high costs of hotels in Bozeman.

“Parents that have children who are playing that might not be able to attend anymore because they simply cannot afford it,” says Stiffarm

Parents like Amy Murdoch were not able to book an affordable hotel in Bozeman so for her, the easiest option was to commute.

“We’re going to stay in Livingston, so I'm hoping that the weather is good,” says parent, Amy Murdock.

The General Manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman explains that Bozeman's hospitality industry is unique because of demand.

“Tourists that come to town, we have a lot of other demand generators, another big one is the university,” says Patrick Morrisey

To break down the numbers, we took a look at six hotel prices for Bozeman, Great Falls and Billings, on Hotels.com and looked at a stay for a family of four, 2 adults and 2 children, for Friday through Sunday. Bozeman was the highest at an average of $352, Great Falls average was $176, and by far the cheapest was Billings at Just under $140 dollars per night.

“It's a lot of money, I mean that's more than a month's rent in a lot of places in Harve,” says Stiffarm.

Not only costing him but a community.

“Unfortunately it's just making it harder and harder not just for me and my family but for the community as a whole,” says Stiffarm.

As the community on the Hi-Line celebrates a historic season they fear not all will be able to cheer on their home team in Bozeman.

“This is the first time that both the boys and the girls have made it to state,” says Stiffarm.

Murchok and Stiffarm say they are willing to watch their sons no matter the cost.

“We're still going to go, the only dilemma is just having to travel and spread our kids out a bit,” says Murdock.

The one thing they look forward to is cheering on their kids.

“Go Harlem Wildcats and Ladycats!” says Stiffarm