The Montana Department of Commerce has awarded the City of Shelby a Tourism Infrastructure Improvement Grant which should cover about half the estimated cost of constructing Champions Park, commemorating the 1923 Dempsey-Gibbons fight.

Here is the full press release from the MDOC: 

(HELENA) – The Montana Department of Commerce has approved the award of $550,000 from the Tourism Infrastructure Investment Program (TIIP) for tourism-related facility improvement projects in Billings, the Bitterroot Valley, Charlo, Cooke City, Hamilton, Helena, Lewistown, Polson, Shelby, Terry, Whitehall and West Yellowstone.

"The 2012 TIIP grant funds are being invested in a good mix of established and developing tourism facilities across the Montana. All of these projects will strengthen our ability to attract visitors to Montana and keep them here longer so they can spend more money in our main street businesses," said Dore Schwinden, Director of the Montana Department of Commerce. "These projects also benefit Montana residents by bolstering local economic standpoint and enhancing the quality of life in their communities."

Director Schwinden approved the TIIP grant funding for the tourism facility projects following recommendations from Department of Commerce staff and the state’s Tourism Advisory Council. The twelve TIIP grant recipients were selected from 30 applications requesting $2.3 million in grants from the program.

"With these grants we’re leveraging $1.24 million from other funders which is a 2 to 1 return. The grant dollars are also supporting local construction jobs, the state’s building supply and service industry, and strengthening Montana’s visitor appeal," said Schwinden.

The 2012 TIIP Grant Award Recipients are:

1. $25,715 to the Daly Mansion Preservation Trust of Hamilton for completion of the Daly Mansion Front Porch Restoration Project. Total Project Cost: $41,715

2. $51,286 to the Lewistown Art Center for building repairs to their facility in the heart of downtown Lewistown. Repairs include roof repair, install roof water duct system, insulation, electrical system upgrade, install rear fire and exit door, and sheet rock. Total Project Cost: $76,929

3. $21,527 to Cooke City Community Council for completion of interior exhibits in the Cooke City Montana Museum along with lighting and fencing for exterior exhibit area. Total Project Cost: $32,290

4. $27,882 to the National Smokejumpers Center in West Yellowstone for renovation and construction of volunteer housing in the basement of the Historic Madison Ranger Station used by the Center as the base for its natural history and youth programs. Total Project Cost: $42,294

5. $60,000 to the Town of Whitehall for new audience seating and livestock stalls at the Whitehall Rodeo Grounds. Total Project Cost: $93,000

6. $80,000 to the Polson Fairgrounds, Inc., for reconstruction of the Fairground’s Grandstand and adding ADA accessibility. Total Project Cost: $120,000

7. $62,475 to the Evelyn Cameron Heritage, Inc., of Terry for Phase II renovation of the old Rialto Theater into the Evelyn Cameron Heritage Center. Completion of Phase II work will allow the center to be open for regularly scheduled public use. Total Project Cost: $93,716

8. $66,114 to the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana in Charlo for the purchase of the museum building and grounds. Total Project Cost: $250,000

9. $65,000 to Helena Presents to purchase and install film and live performance audio and visual equipment at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena. Total Project Cost: $300,000

10. $47,770 to the City of Shelby for Phase I site preparation and construction of the Champions Park facility celebrating the famous Dempsey-Gibbons World Heavyweight Championship Fight of 1923 along with the heritage and culture of Shelby, Toole County and north central Montana. Total Project Cost: $95,554

11. $22,000 to the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club for new trail grooming equipment to be used on the Chief Joseph Pass Cross Country Ski Trails near Lost Trail Pass at the southern end of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Total Project Cost: $33,273

12. $20,231 to ZooMontana of Billings for new interactive exhibits in the facility’s Living Wall area providing visitors access to new wildlife and biomes from around the world. Total Project Cost: $63,000

Since 1995, TIIP grants have provided $4.725 million in tourism lodging tax funds to 106 projects in 50 Montana communities. These TIIP-assisted projects represent $46.2 million in Montana tourism facility improvements financed with public and private funds.

TIIP grant funds are provided by the 4% Montana Lodging Facility Use Tax which is assessed on the lodging price of all accommodations across Montana, including campgrounds. The grants are awarded through a competitive process and require a $1 match for every $2 provided by grant funds.