Thursday, November 26, 2020

Arena shows leadership, selflessness

| October 25, 2020 12:00 AM

Non-essential business closures and other mandates associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have battered the Flathead Valley’s economy for most of 2020, leaving some local businesses hanging by a thread and prompting others to close their doors for good.

And now, just as local businesses are starting to regain their financial footholds, an uncontrolled swell of virus cases in the county has threatened that progress. Recent investigations have found many new cases are linked to indoor gatherings and large events. Local health experts have made it clear that if the community doesn’t cut back on the size and scope of these gatherings soon, it’s local businesses that may be forced to suffer the consequences.

In light of this information, officials with the Majestic Valley Arena in Kalispell decided Tuesday to prioritize public health by canceling all events for the next 30 days. Suspended events include a bull riding tournament that was expected to bring in at least 1,500 people, and the arena’s beloved annual holiday festival, which has run for 18 consecutive years.

We recognize the decision was a challenging one — and it was made to the detriment of the business itself, during a time of great financial uncertainty.

Tim Harmon, the arena’s general manager, was clear on this, stating, “We are an event center, and if we are not hosting events, we are not making money.” But Harmon ultimately described the closure as “prudent and in the interest of public safety.”

The community should applaud the Majestic Valley Arena’s tough decision — a show of selflessness that put the betterment of the community first. Arena officials have shown tremendous leadership at a time when it’s needed most.

And although we recognize the ask is steep given the current economic climate, we urge other businesses that draw large crowds to indoor settings to consider what they can do to help mute the surge of virus cases that are threatening to overwhelm the valley’s health-care system. Smothering the virus now is the best way to keep local businesses open for the long haul.

And as the adage goes, what one gives to others will come back to them tenfold.

This is where our local communities come into play. When Majestic Valley Arena reopens, we encourage the community to show appreciation for their sacrifice by patronizing the arena’s events and supporting the business in any way they can. They deserve it.

As Harmon mentioned, “We are all in this together.”