Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) While the old grandstands at the Missoula County Fairgrounds were removed last year, work to erect the new facility is expected to begin soon.

County officials this week said it should be open by July, just in time for the annual fair. Commissioners on Tuesday amended the project's contract with Jackson Contractor Group to move the project forward.

“We're ready to hit the ground running this spring,” said Ethan Redfern, who works for the county. “The project has been fully permitted by the City of Missoula. We're anticipating completion of the project in early July.”

The new facility was named Clouse-Bauer Arena last summer after the fairgrounds campaign teamed up with Doug and Adam Bauer. The two own Missoula Concrete and Construction and agreed to provide the concrete risers for the grandstands as an in-kind donation.

That portion of the project is valued at around $750,000 and earned the Bauer's naming rights. They added Clouse in recognition of their long-time employee Dale Clouse. The entire project is estimated at around $5.1 million.

“Every single thing worked right,” said Emily Brock, director of lands and economic development for Missoula County. “The hardest thing has already happened in that the city gave us the permit very quickly. “

The back side of the facility as it looks toward the center plaza.
The back side of the facility as it looks toward the center plaza.

As described by project advocates, the first row of seating will be eye level with the arena while a number of concourses will offer standing room. The top concourse will also overlook the fairgrounds in general, offering views of the action from all sides.

The new facility will also offer more than just rodeos. Motorcycle racing could become a staple, along with concerts. As the Midtown district redevelops on the heels of the new master plan, the fairgrounds plans to be at the center of it.

The new grandstands should be open in time for this year's event. It will join the Butterfly House and Insectarium as the property's newest attraction.

“We're looking at final inspections in mid-July,” said Redfern. “We're looking forward to beginning our material procurement to start the work.”