The largest arena in the state of Montana is without a roof today after a tornado tore through Billing on Sunday. The 12,000-seat Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark was heavily damaged by winds exceeding 100 mph and left the local pro indoor football team without a permanent home.
The BILLINGS GAZETTE reports that Yellowstone County commissioner John Ostlund called the event, “A total disaster. Absolutely nothing is left of it. It isn’t just the cover (the roof), it’s the whole structure.”
The twister hit Billings around 7pm local time on Sunday with dozens of homes and downtown businesses also damaged heavily - including a local casino. Amazingly, no one in the city was reported killed or seriously injured.
With its arena perhaps permanently inaccessible, the Indoor Football League Billings Outlaws planned to play their first playoff game this week at the team’s practice facility.
The Outlaws had just wrapped the regular season with a win the night before in the same building.
Quarterback Chris Dixon said, “The whole day has just been stressful. And depressing. Seeing those pictures of Metra on TV last night was like watching your house getting blown up.”
The building, which suffered $15 million in damages but is insured for up to $45 million was also set to host the Montana State Fair in August.
Local officials are actually optimistic that the damage can be repaired eventually but are waiting for structural tests before making a final call on the future of the facility.
More photos of arena damage can be found here.