Missoula Maulers

Jan 24, 2013 9:15 AM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News

Maulers owner hopes to rally support for new arena

MISSOULA - The owner of the Missoula Maulers hockey club is hoping to rally support for a renewed look at the idea of constructing a 5,000-seat multipurpose arena at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

Michael Burks' team has grown to be a major draw for the Glacier Ice Rink, with thousands of people attending Maulers' games throughout the course of the season. But in recent years, the club has been anxious for upgrades, both for club hockey and ice sports in general.

Last summer, the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee adopted a five-year plan which included the future of the ice rink as one of the topics to be reviewed, and how re-orienting the rinks could be a part of the future designs for the fairgrounds. Some of those ideas made it into an architectural report that was released last month.

The committee will continue those planning discussions next week, and Burks is hoping people take an interest in the concept of a new arena in the area where horse racing had been in the past.

In a posting on Facebook and in an email sent out Wednesday, Burks says the arena could be used for year around "rodeos, concerts, conventions, volleyball, basketball and other tournaments. He believes the facility could include indoor turf for sports like soccer, with an underlying ice rink.

That's not unlike the proposals for the Missoula Events Center which had been promoted a couple of years ago before being shelved because of the economic downturn.

Although no immediate decisions are anticipated at next Monday's meeting, Burks is hoping enough people will show up to show the county there's strong support for the arena concept.

That meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Western Montana Fairgrounds.

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