Griz vs. Weber State 12.JPG

Montana fans cheer on the Griz during the Big Sky Conference football game between Montana and Weber State on Saturday at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah. State senator Ellie Boldman, based out of Missoula, requested a bill be drafted with the intent of bringing ESPN’s College GameDay to the Garden City.

MISSOULA — Last week, state senator Ellie Boldman, based out of Missoula, requested a bill be drafted with the intent of bringing ESPN’s College GameDay to the city. The bill, currently in the drafting process, would go to legislature in January during their bi-annual meeting.

At the time of announcement, it was uncertain what purpose the bill would actually serve. It goes without saying that the government can’t simply draft a bill making it law for the college football show to come to western Montana, so what would this get accomplished?

There were mixed public reviews. Some people found it great that local authorities continue trying to get Missoula under the national spotlight, while others considered it the government wasting its time on unimportant matters.

But since then, Boldman has talked with 406mtsports.com to discuss her GameDay initiative.

She chatted about her history with sports-related bills, why she believes this new bill belongs in legislature, the direct impacts GameDay would have on Missoula and what the public can expect come January.

Here are the facts regarding bill “LC807” to allow for more informed opinions:

Q: What is the actual purpose of the bill and why, in your opinion, is it important to have this in the legislature?

A: Joint resolutions are important to the work we do in the Montana legislature.

Joint resolutions are a way to establish the unified wishes and/or formalize the requests of the entire House and Senate, "the people's branch," as one voice.  The Montana legislature often sends this type of unified voice of support when we feel, as lawmakers, and as a body, we are compelled to formalize our beliefs, on behalf of the people of the State of Montana. Our resolutions often show support or encouragement to movements in the private sector.

Bringing ESPN College GameDay to the State of Montana is worthy of such an enthusiastic endorsement.

On one day, every year, our Griz/Cat tradition, the "Brawl of the Wild", unifies the entire state. The rivalry dates back to the first game in 1897, making it the 31st oldest D-I rivalry in the nation, the 11th oldest west of the Mississippi River and the fourth oldest in FCS history.

Last session, I successfully sponsored several bills in support of our university athletic programs. This upcoming session, I also introduced Uniform College Athlete Name, Image and Likeness Act, a related bill draft request. The Uniform Law provides a more comprehensive framework to the "Name, Image, Likeness" bill that I sponsored last session (which is now the law in the State of Montana.)

The joint resolution will also serve to support the efforts of the Uniform NIL law, which intends to further bolster our student-athletes in the revenue associated with their "NIL," including our women athletes, and athletes outside of football programs, like rodeo and golf. Our student-athletes deserve our support.

Q: What would be the direct impact on the city of Missoula itself and the state of Montana?

A: Ever since ESPN's "College GameDay" show premiered for Notre Dame-Florida State in 1993, that pre-game show has traveled around the country at the top games each week. For many families nationwide, including my own, every Saturday during college football season, our televisions are tuned-in — we learn about new towns and teams and we experience new locations, new campuses, and the people of those communities, its landscape, and culture.

The opportunity to host College GameDay is an economic driver.  The amount of money the free exposure provides for the universities featured on its program is enormous, coupled with the economic benefit for the private sector, including our hotels, restaurants, bars and related sales of game day gear.

It's time for the State of Montana to be in that spotlight. ESPN has never been here before, and it is time.

Q: What can people expect come January in regards to this whole deal?

A: The bill is already in the drafting process. In legislative speech, we say, "it's currently in the hopper." This means that it has been pre-introduced and it is still being drafted. Jameson Walker is the legislative staffer assigned at the State Capitol and he will work closely with me and other co-sponsors on the content (wording) in the resolution.

The public can follow it through the State of Montana's legislative website. 

It is currently called LC807. I would love for anyone interested in helping draft the language to email me with ideas for content and we will define, together, why ESPN College GameDay should come to Montana. I would be happy to include their ideas in the resolution.

After the session begins in January 2023, the bill will receive a bill number, or a Senate Joint Resolution number. I will work with colleagues in both Chambers and on both sides of the aisle to join as co-sponsors of the bill.

The bill will be heard in a committee hearing in both the House and Senate, and the public will have an opportunity to testify in favor of it at both hearings.  

I have been in the Montana Capitol since 2011, and I know that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle are deeply proud of our Montana football programs, and I feel confident this resolution will be met with enthusiastic support.

I would imagine it will be mailed to ESPN College GameDay officials with the signatures of all 150 Montana State legislators, representing urban, rural and Tribal communities. You can tell Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Pat McAfee and David Pollack to pack their bags. Montana is ready, and we're coming for them.

Lucas Semb is the Griz football beat writer for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Semb or email him at lucas.semb@406mtsports.com.

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