Mar 25, 2015
When the group deciding which city will host the Big Sky Conference men’s basketball tournament steps off the airplane Wednesday afternoon at Billings Logan International Airport, they’ll be greeted by a dozen graphics designed to make them smile.
A player from each of the league’s 12 basketball programs is featured on windows over the baggage claim area. The familiar faces will be among the first things conference officials take in — that and the Central High band and cheerleaders, which are among the official welcoming delegation.
Signs announcing “Game On” and “Welcome Big Sky Conference” were hung at the airport Tuesday, and a welcoming party will greet them as the official opening to what can only be described as Billings’ full-court press to land the tournament.
Later, when the officials check in at the Northern Hotel, the desk clerks will be wearing a T-shirt from one of the member schools. It’s one of about 100 T-shirts that Alex Tyson, executive director of Visit Billings, has collected so front-line employees can show the visitors that the city is serious about hosting the 2016-18 tournaments.
Three other cities — Reno, Nev., Spokane, Wash., and Ogden, Utah — are competing with Billings to host the men’s tournament.