University Unveils Study Which Adds Reinforcement to Possibility of New Arena
April 17, 2003
EUGENE - A seven-month study to determine the feasibility of constructing a new sports and entertainment arena for the University of Oregon in the near future has returned favorable reviews, as revealed at a Thursday afternoon news media briefing attended by the university's Vice President for Administration, Dan Williams, and the school's Director of Athletics, Bill Moos.
Discussions surrounding an alternative to McArthur Court, which has served as the venue for the Ducks' men's basketball team since 1927, have taken place at varying levels over the last several decades but have intensified over the past few years. The recent success enjoyed by both the men's and women's basketball teams, as well as the need to increase funding for the university's department of intercollegiate athletics' financial self-sufficiency, has moved the possibility of a new facility one step further.
CSL International, a consulting firm specializing in market research and analysis to determine support within the sports, entertainment and leisure industries, concluded that demand exists for a new facility that would not only benefit the university but also the Eugene/Springfield area as well as contribute to the economy of Lane County. The sports research specialist is the same one Oregon hired to gather data which led to the recent renovation and addition to Autzen Stadium.
Among the elements the Minneapolis-based firm concluded was the new arena could support up to 15,000 seats, which would include 3,000 to 4,000 donor seats as well as 20 luxury suites. In addition, it was determined the facility could host approximately 100 annual events and attract upwards toward 500,000 spectators, resulting in about $4 million to $6 million in additional net revenue to help fund the Ducks' intercollegiate athletics programs.
Additional points revealed from the study and supporting a new arena was the positive economic impact on the community and the state. CSL estimates that it would create at least 285 new full and part-time jobs and provide up to $6.6 million in additional direct spending each year. Construction would help create thousands of jobs and generate millions more in short-term economic impact.
During the process, as many as 20 potential sites capable of supporting such a project were evaluated, with that number trimmed to seven still under consideration. They include:
* Autzen Stadium vicinity * New Eugene Courthouse site (west Franklin Blvd.) * Howe Field (E. 18th and University) * Franklin Blvd. (Glenwood) * Franklin Blvd. (Springfield, just east of Interstate 5) * North Campus (Riverfront Parkway between Franklin Blvd. and Millrace Drive) * Williams' Bakery site (E. 13th Ave., between Columbia and Villard Street)
Among the criteria used to select the site will include a close proximity to campus and students; the ability to provide for the needs of the sports it houses as well as adequate parking and alternative mass transportation potential; affordability; adequate traffic infrastructure; flexibility to serve other university purposes; and an appropriate land use.
To assist with site selection process, the athletic department has retained the consulting firm of International Facilities Group.
Williams said the next major step in deciding whether the project can become a reality was to develop a design and concept for the facility to aid in projecting a cost for the project He emphasized it was not only important that the project be free of any university or state funding but that it also did not divert any private contributions that would otherwise be earmarked for any academic priorities.
The architecture firm of HKS has been hired to develop plans for the project. Headquartered in Dallas, the 64-year-old sports and entertainment specialist boasts a resume that includes developing of plans for the recently completed American Airlines Center in Dallas (home of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks), renovations to Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field (formerly Comiskey Park), Milwaukee's Miller Park (home of the MLB Milwaukee Brewers) and Orlando's Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports.
Moos said it was important that the design firm be able to 'capture the intimate feeling of Mac Court while providing a more user-friendly environment.' That would include, but not be limited to, improved facilities for food services and other amenities, more unobstructed seating, capabilities for increased student seating to accommodate projected record-setting enrollments, as well as increased access for the physically disabled patrons.
After being presented with all the information, Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer is expected to reach a final decision regarding the arena's future by July 1, 2003. If approved, it is estimated that construction could begin as soon as the summer 2004, with completion targeted in time for the start of the 2006-07 season.
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