HELENA — More people watched the high school basketball state tournaments in 2019 than any other year in recorded history.
This year’s tournaments recorded a gross income of $505,417, the third-most since the Montana High School Association started tracking data in 2005. Add in the nearly 345,000 views on the NFHS Network live streams, and this year’s tournaments are believed to be the most-watched in Montana history.
The eight tournaments spread out over five sites profited $229,512.13, all of which was distributed back to the schools. Another $75,000-plus was paid out to the schools from the NFHS Network fees. The MHSA does not receive a penny of the profits, which are based solely on ticket sales.
This year’s banner tournament was in Billings, where the Class C boys generated a profit of $93,143.13 after expenses, which included facilities, administration, referees and team expenses. Manhattan Christian defeated Arlee for the state championship at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in March, the last time the Class C tournaments will be played at separate sites. Class C is combining its boys and girls tournaments next year, with the first edition slated to be played in Missoula.
The State C girls tournament was the only state tournament to lose money in 2019, losing $13,301.98.
The combined Class A tournaments in Great Falls ($68,447.08), combined Class AA tournaments in Butte ($48,155.42) and combined Class B tournaments in Belgrade ($33,068.48) all generated profits that were distributed to the classifications’ member schools.
Of the other 30 postseason (district and divisional) basketball tournaments, only five generated a profit: the Eastern A super-divisional, Western A divisional, Northern C divisional, District 2B and District 3B tournaments.
The Eastern A super-divisional, which features teams from the Eastern A and Central A conferences, continued to gross more income than any other tournament in Montana, bringing in $166,499.00 in ticket sales. The massive expenses resulted in a $34,513.35 profit for schools in those conferences.
The MHSA releases financial reports of its postseason basketball tournaments at the executive board’s annual April meeting, which was held on Monday and Tuesday of this week.