BILLINGS – Governor Steve Bullock and Lt. Governor Mike Cooney today visited Dehler Park, home of the Billings Mustangs minor league baseball team, to highlight how support through the Coronavirus Relief Funds will help to sustain America’s favorite pastime following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With no Minor League Baseball this year, the Billings Mustangs were looking at having to go nearly two years with no income -- from September of 2019 to June of 2021. We were effectively down to our last out. But then Governor Bullock and the State of Montana made the Live Entertainment Grants available. It was as if Governor Bullock belted a Grand Slam in the bottom of the ninth! Now, with these funds, our future is again secure, we can start rehiring staff, coming up with new promotions and get back to providing eastern Montana the kind of fun, affordable, family-friendly entertainment we've become known for,” Dave Heller, Billings Mustangs owner, President & CEO of Main Street Baseball, said.
“Montanans can rest assured that America’s favorite pastime – and the family memories, snacks, and ballpark music that come with it – will be here next season,” Governor Bullock said. “The Live Entertainment Grants offer support to sustain the businesses that bring together large gatherings, ensuring they can resume offering events as soon as it is safe to do so.”
“We are stepping up to the plate to make certain the businesses that bring Montana communities together each year will be prepared to reopen when it is safe to do so,” Lt. Gov. Cooney said. “This innovative grant program is keeping live entertainment businesses viable and ensure area businesses such as restaurants and lodging will continue to experience the economic benefits of live events in the future.”
The Billings Mustangs received almost $420,000 through the Live Entertainment Grant and $20,000 through two rounds of Business Stabilization Grant funds. These funds are being utilized to bring back furloughed staff, pay insurance and rent, and allow for safe gatherings going forward.
As Montana continues making progress toward economic recovery and most sectors have reopened, live entertainment businesses across the state have remained closed due to health risks related to large gatherings or acts that have postponed touring. The Live Entertainment Grant program provides up to 25 percent of a business’ 2019 gross revenue or a maximum of $1,000,000 per applicant.
Montana is one of the only states in the nation providing specific funding for the live entertainment industry. Over $7 million has been awarded to nearly 30 live entertainment businesses through the Live Entertainment Grant program to date.