The Montana High School Association made the decision on Tuesday afternoon to move the State A and C track meets from Missoula to Laurel for the event that is scheduled for May 26 and 27.

MHSA spokesman Mark Beckman said the decision was difficult, but necessary.

“Our board met yesterday and made that decision,” Beckman said. “It was a tough decision because Missoula is a great host for our state events and for a lot of post-season events. With the uncertainty regarding the completion of the track and some of the requirements that were in place that they would need 50 degree weather for maybe five hours or more to place three more layers on the track.”

The impact of the MHSA’s decision has reverberated throughout the Missoula and western Montana business community. Director of Sales and Services at Destination Missoula, Mary Holmes, said the economic impact of not hosting the event will be devastating.

“We were expecting over 3,000 overnight visitors in Missoula over that period, and I believe our projection was $1.3 million economic impact to our community,” Holmes said. “When the official tournament schedules are set for the year, they’re calling oftentimes a year in advance to get all their reservations booked up, so Missoula hotels have been full for that weekend for at least six months.”

Beckman said there is still an opportunity for Missoula to bid for other tournaments in the 2018-2019 school year.

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