Rimrock Rebuild Means Upgrade

Apparently even tornadoes can come with silver linings.

The $15 million architects’ estimate it will cost to rebuild Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in Billings, Mont., will include money for improved sound, more bathrooms and fan-friendlier entrances. A tornado ripped off the arena’s roof and scoured the inside in June.

Preliminary designs for the rehab project were presented by CTA Architects and Populous, a national design firm, to Yellowstone County officials Sept. 8.

The county’s insurance carrier hasn’t come up with a solid coverage figure yet, but CTA estimates it will cover about $8 million of the work, with the county picking up the rest, the Billings Gazette reports.

Not everyone is happy with the estimate, however, and some county commissioners vow to reduce the estimate of its share, which they say is $2.5 million too high.

Roofing work was expected to begin in mid-September. The arena should be “dried in” by mid-November, according to the paper, and it’s hoped the venue will be ready to host a high school basketball tournament in March. That and other events can take place even with ongoing construction, county officials reportedly said.

If all goes according to plan, the finished Rimrock Auto Arena will boast much more glass, a red fascia instead of the current tan color and many more bathroom stalls. The box office area will be redesigned to eliminate a sloped ceiling, giving it an additional 3,000 square feet and a more modern look.

Much will depend on what the county is willing to cover. Reconstruction could take as long as two years to complete, according to the Gazette.