MetraPark is in Montana's largest city and metropolitan area, Billings. More than 36% (360,157) of Montana's population lives within a three hour drive of the facility. The city is the focal point for commerce in eastern Montana and northern Wyoming. The location at the intersection of Interstates 90 and 94 make it a perfect "bridge" stop for the show touring business.
More than 2 million vehicles pass through the area annually, part of an estimated 11 million travelers visiting Montana. The ease of access, along with major attractions like Yellowstone National Park, Red Lodge Mountain, Little Big Horn Battlefield, and fly fishing on the Big Horn River, make Billings the hub for activity in the state.
(mileages on map: Google maps shortest route between cities)
Billings and Yellowstone County is the largest metropolitan area within a 450 mile radius. The Billings Chamber of Commerce claims the area of trade is about 125,000 square miles, larger than every state outside of Alaska, Texas, and California. Montana has no state sales tax. This advantage makes more discretionary dollars available to consumers.
Forbes magazine put Billings in their top 50 small places for business and careers.
With the oil boom in the Bakken area of eastern Montana and western North Dakota, the availability of a quality workforce, plus rail, air, and truck transportation have combined to make the Billings and Yellowstone County economy boom. Health care, wholesale and retail trade, and manufacturing form the big three drivers of the local economy. The current unemployment rate (as of July 1, 2014) is 3.1% or about half the national average. The low unemployment rate has pushed area employers into offering starting wages 44.8% higher than the U.S. minimum wage. The county population grew by nearly 15% in the past decade. There is a complete analysis of Yellowstone County economic and demographic data here.
Billings benefits from having a diversified economy, where oil and gas, health care, livestock and banking play significant parts. Cattle production to Montana is like orange juice to Florida--it is that significant.
Billings Logan International Airport averages 450,000 passengers per year. Allegiant, Delta, United, Alaska, and Cape Air all fly from BIL. FedEx multiple daily flights supporting a 146,000 square foot large ground distribution center in the market.
MetraPark serves a primary market area of more than 250 miles and a secondary market extending nearly 500 miles.
Communities with a large concentration of MetraPark patrons:
- Billings, MT/Yellowstone County (154,162)
- Bozeman-Livingston, MT /Gallatin-Park Counties (110,402)
- Great Falls, MT / Cascade County (82,384)
- Miles City, MT / Custer County (11,951)
- Glendive, MT / Dawson County (9,445)
- Sheridan, WY / Sheridan County (29,166)
- Gillette, WY / Campbell County (48,176)
- Cody, WY / Park County (29,227)
Key demographic and business information:
- College age (18-24) persons: 40,436
- Median age: 37
- Sales tax burden NONE
- Gross Metro Product: $8.6 Billion
- Large Employers: Conoco-Philips, Exxon-Mobil, St. Vincent Health Care, Billings Clinic, Stillwater Mining Company, Kampgrounds of America, First Interstate Bank, CHS Inc., and BNSF.
Colleges in the region:
- MSU-Billings (4,969)
- MSU-Bozeman (15,294)
- Rocky Mountain College (1,007)
- Northwest College (2,051)
- Sheridan and Gillette Colleges (4,121)
Additional locations in the area; City College of Billings, Great Falls College of Technology, Miles City Community College, University of Great Falls, Carroll College, Dickinson State College.
That's a quick summary of the eastern Montana/northern Wyoming market. Now check out who actually comes to play at First Interstate Arena.