Westmont vs. Freed-Hardeman

Freed-Hardeman celebrates its win over Westmont in the championship game of the NAIA Women’s Division I National Championship at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on Tuesday, March 20.

Billings will remain the home of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I Women’s Basketball Championship through the 2019-20 season.

Visit Billings and Rocky Mountain College made the announcement Wednesday in a news release. The weeklong event has been held at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in 2017 and 2018 and was contracted through 2019, but the success of the previous tournaments led the organization to extend through a fourth year.

“We are grateful to have such a great host as Visit Billings that continues to help showcase this premier sport,” said Jim Carr, NAIA president and CEO, in the release.

The 2019 championship will be held March 13-19, with the 2020 event set for March 18-24, both at MetraPark.

“Billings, and Montana, couldn’t be more proud to host the amazing athletes of the NAIA,” said Alex Tyson, Visit Billings executive director. “What a privilege to be able to be part of another year of competing and celebrating the hard work and dedication of the NAIA’s incredible female athletes.”

After the 2020 tournament, NAIA basketball divisions will merge into a single division. There will be one NAIA men’s basketball division and one women’s. The move will halve the number of teams playing in the national tournaments, from 32 to 16.

In an email, Tyson said Billings will "absolutely plan" to bid for the new 2021-24 tournament contract. Those bids are due Dec. 1.

"We will need to see the dates available as to not run into any conflicts with (Montana High School Association) state basketball events," Tyson said. "That state tournament date is really a non-negotiable for this community ... The NAIA tournament is also important, but any tournament bid would need to coincide with our commitments to MHSA together with MetraPark."

Tyson credited the “careful organization and hard work” of local partners, including Visit Billings, the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District, Rocky Mountain College and MetraPark, in helping to extend the contract through 2020.

“The Billings business community has offered incredible support during the last two tournaments,” she said. “We appreciate the investment of every sponsor, honorary coach, and volunteer — including the title sponsor for 2017 and 2018, Wells Fargo.”

A planning committee is already seeking sponsors for both one- and two-year sponsorship agreements. To learn more or to get involved, contact Tyson at Alex@VisitBillings.com.

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