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article imageTornado caught on video destroying Montana's largest sports arena Special

By Kim I. Hartman     Jun 22, 2010 in Business
Billings - Deadly tornadoes have been blasting the US Midwest since May. Montana was hit by a tornado that tore down its largest sports and entertainment facility. The Rimrock Auto Park was destroyed spreading debris for hundreds of miles as shown in this video.
The city of Billings Montana and Yellowstone County officials declared a state of emergency after the largest tornado to hit the city in more than 50 years ripped the roof off of a sports arena, causing millions of dollars in damage.
Billings Police Sgt. Kevin Iffland said the commissioners gave verbal approval to the declaration Sunday evening, allowing the Montana Army National Guard to help provide security to the city's most damaged areas overnight.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer was scheduled to visit Billings on Monday for briefings and a tour of the damage. No deaths or major injuries were reported, other than a person getting struck on the head by a large hailstone.
City Commissioner Bill Kennedy said two people were on the MetraPark grounds when the tornado hit, but neither was hurt. A day earlier, thousands of people were inside the arena for an Indoor Football League game.
"The big guy was looking out after us," Kennedy said. "It would have been tough if that (tornado) came up and people were inside to get everybody in the basement safely."
While no one was badly injured, the economic damage could be severe reports Local8tv.
MetraPark, located in Billings, is Montana’s center for events. It is a multi-facility events campus, the largest of its kind within a 5 state region with professional management solely dedicated to the events business. MetraPark serves a primary market area of more than 250 miles in every direction
A visit to the MetraPark.com web site displays this message
On June 20, 2010, Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark was decimated during a tornado that affected Billings, Montana at about 4:30 PM. In cooperation with local and state agencies, our team is working to clean up the area, assess the damage and create a plan for future operations. We are working with the Antiques Road Show to continue their event on Saturday and the Billings Outlaws are working to create a plan for their playoff dates. We will be contacting promoters who have booked events in the arena and our other facilities this week.
Amateur video showed the tornado as it hovered over the Rimrock arena for more then 15 minutes as it shredded the roof and exterior with pieces scattered for hundreds of miles.
The Arena, which can hold up to 12,000 people, is host to Montana’s largest concerts, family shows, rodeos, ice shows, motor sports events, and more. Local high school and college graduations are held in the arena annually and it is often host to many of the states’ district, divisional, and state high school tournaments. It is also home field to the Billings Outlaws United Indoor Football team
At this point, according to staff at MetraPark, it will take weeks to access the full cost of the damage to the Rimrock Auto Park arena as well as other structures in this huge entertainment facility. Engineers, insurance adjusters, state officials and contractors will all be inspecting the damage to see if it can repaired. Safety is their main concern, they added they would not compromise the safety of their loyal patrons. Even if that means leveling the facility and rebuilding it from ground up, says MetraPark.
If you have tickets to events to be held at MetraPark, listen to your local news and radio or check their web page for details of the status of each scheduled event said the ticketing department at MetraPark.
You can contact the facility at 406.256.2422 or Toll Free at 800.366.8538 for ticketing information.
The MetraPark and its Auto weren't the only businesses destroyed in what is being called the largest tornado to hit the state in over 50 years. Wind speeds from Sunday's tornado were estimated at 111 to 135 mph report's National Weather Service . The last time Yellowstone County had that scale of a tornado was July 2, 1958.
The high winds damaged homes, tore entire roofs off both homes and businesses, ripped tress from the grown, snapped tree branches like twigs and severely damaged power lines, disrupting communication throughout the region when the twister struck at 5pm.
Some injuries are being reported in the Billings area but so far no deaths have been attributed to the vicious twister.
Officials from MetraPark were happy that an event was not being held when the tornado struck or many lives may have been lost.
With little left standing of their businesses and homes owners are in shock over the damage that will put many of them permanently out of business.
Rescue personnel and clean-up crews were are still searching through the rubble in Billings.
Utility and gas crews worked through the night shutting down lines and pipes. They will working day and night until the job is completed and power, phone and gas lines are repaired and restored for the citizens of Billings and it's surrounding areas.
For now the city of Billings looks like a battle zone from a war that was lost to a tornado.
More about Tornado, Metrapark, Rimrock, Outlaws, Montana
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