FUTURE OF THE FAIRGROUNDS
The Missoula County Fairgrounds was bought by the Missoula Board of County Commissioners for $16,000 in 1913. At the time it was surrounded by farmland, and as Missoula grew, it became centrally located with a variety of uses. It now plays an important role in the community as a focal point and destination with a mission to promote agriculture, education, culture, recreation, and community connection, and to reflect the beauty and history of Western Montana. After serving Western Montana for over a century, this important public asset needs reinvestment to preserve historic ties to community agriculture, develop 19 acres of open space, create 6000 feet of trail connections, and build facilities for agricultural, educational, and recreational programming. In 2016, after an extensive public process, the County adopted a plan to redevelop the Fairgrounds.
Excellence in Design
With the planning process complete, Design Guidelines have been developed to identify the function, intent, and character of specific design elements with the goal of ensuring consistent, high-quality design and clear expectations as the Fairgrounds are renovated and redeveloped. At the same time, the County began preliminary design development, including schematic design of the grounds, a study of the existing ice rinks, and collaboration with the County Weed District and Extension Office on design of a new Learning Center. The resulting Schematic Plan further refines the site layout and provides additional detail for site circulation, parking, landscaping, building locations, and utilities to be used for the final design of individual projects.
Phase I is underway and is expected to be complete within five years. This includes utility extensions, renovations to historic buildings, a new maintenance shop, a new Learning Center to house the County Weed District and 4-H, perimeter landscaping and streetscaping, entrance enhancements, improvements to the existing carnival grounds, 6000 feet of new trails, and 10 new acres of open space. Future phases include 19 total acres of open space, and a new Livestock Center, Rodeo Arena, Ice Rink, and Exhibit Center.