Sports for All Seasons

FAQs

Why the fairgrounds?

The fairgrounds are county-owned and offer ample space for an indoor multi-use sports facility, along with space for plenty of parking and easy access to public transportation. The location is also close to lodging and restaurants in downtown Eugene, with the Oakway, Valley River, Gateway and Glenwood areas all just minutes away.

What about the proposal to build a new Ems stadium?

We support the new Eugene Emeralds Minor League Baseball stadium at the fairgrounds. There is plenty of room at the fairgrounds for both the Ems stadium and an indoor multi-use facility, and there could be substantial cost savings realized between the shared facilities. We need an indoor facility that can attract visitors’ dollars during our shoulder and winter seasons and provide emergency response space for our community.

Why now?

An indoor multi-use sports facility has been in the works for about five years as a possible local project, but no site has been committed to date. The Lane County Fairgrounds is undergoing a master planning process. An increase in Transient Room Tax (TRT) was identified as a possible source of funds for a multi-use indoor facility and TRT funds are intended to support the visitor industry. It's important that we use a TRT increase for a facility that will drive winter visitor demand. The Ems stadium won't do that, but an indoor multi-use sports facility will. Building both projects, together, means everyone wins.

What about a proposal for an indoor track in the Springfield area?

We have long supported the effort to build an indoor track in Glenwood, formally proposed in 2019. However, securing land and an ownership structure has hampered that effort. Placing the indoor multi-use sports facility (with an indoor track as a feature) on the Lane Events Center / fairgrounds property brings it to life years earlier than waiting for a site to be committed and build-ready in Springfield. We believe the benefits of a multi-use sports facility to our broader community are too great to postpone this effort any longer. Now is the time to show our support for this project and propel it forward until we cross the finish line.

Is this needed now that the community has built Civic Park and YMCA is coming to life?

Both the Kidsports/Civic Park and YMCA facilities are extremely valuable and important additions to our recreation and sports infrastructure, but they do not reduce the need for a multi-use sports facility that can be used by a variety of sports for tournaments, league play, practice and camps.

Unfortunately, we are seriously underbuilt for indoor sports space for both resident use and tournaments that draw out of area teams and participants. Even adding this proposed facility won’t solve all of our needs, but it is a great step forward in serving the key goals of winter visitor demand and resident needs for indoor sports space.

Will it fit on the Lane Events Center campus?

Yes, it will fit on the campus and still allow plenty of space for a summer stadium, parking, and other structural improvements anticipated to come from the fairgrounds master plan.

Who will be the operator?

Travel Lane County believes the professional staff that manages the Lane Events Center for conventions, expositions, consumer shows and sports events now is fully capable of operating the proposed indoor multi-use sports facility. It may be optimal to partner with an operator for indoor track events, given their expertise and ability to produce new events.

For any specific sport, event production is likely to be done by a user group that rents the facility for that purpose, like Webfoot or CEVA for volleyball, InCline Sports for basketball, etc. The facility is largely a rental facility, and user groups rent the facility and run their tournament, league play, practices and/or sports camps.

Food & Beverage concessions and Merchandise revenue streams are negotiated.

How does it fit in the master plan for the fairgrounds?

The proposed indoor multi-use facility was a project likely to emerge from a more sequential master plan of the fairgrounds campus if that process had moved forward without the time urgency introduced by the need to develop a baseball stadium.

The flexibility of the indoor multi-use facility allows it to be used with a variety of portable flooring types to accommodate not only a wide range of sports but also consumer shows, trade shows, and other existing activity on the campus that needs more indoor space. It also can be constructed to work in service to climate-controlled emergency shelter needs to support emergency operations on the Lane Events Center campus.

How will local kids use it if it’s primarily a tournament space?

Sports user groups will rent the facility for tournaments, but also for adult and youth leagues, practice and camps. Summer camps have been mentioned by several user groups, which would be a great addition to summer youth offerings on the Lane Events Center campus.

How does it affect parking and traffic in the neighborhood?

The addition of this proposed facility is most likely to occur in a way that minimizes disruption to existing parking on the campus as much as possible. It is also sized at 3,000 fixed and 1250 temporary seats. Most tournaments and sports events are about the active event participants and not about filling all available spectator seats. Realistically, the campus can accommodate the gathering size of the facility at any given time.

That being said, many thousands may flow through the facility over a weekend as tournaments and indoor track meets proceed through their schedule. They just are not all present at the same time.

Is the commissioner’s action to raise the TLT rate tied to the stadium project?

The increase in TLT, approved by the Board of Commissioners on September 27 and effective January 1, 2023, is tied to tourism-related facilities in Lane County and not a specific project.

Where does funding, outside of TLT increase, come from for the indoor facility?

State and federal grants, private donations, and corporate sponsorships. All of these funding sources have been contemplated as necessary for completing an indoor multi-use facility.

As soon as a commitment is made to own and operate the facility and land is identified and committed, the fundraising can begin.

Could conventions be held in the indoor facility?

While the indoor facility is likely to have a nice lobby, it is unlikely to be considered full-service convention space. It will serve consumer shows and trade shows nicely.

Could the Elmore Group (Emeralds owners) be the operator of an indoor facility?

There have been no discussions with the Elmore Group on this idea, and it may be possible. It may be that the facility can best support other campus uses if it is operated by Lane Events Center staff. Some sports tournaments may overflow into the Lane Events Center itself, as an example.

Do both projects have completed economic analyses that will show the economic impact of each?

There are feasibility, economic impacts studies and operating pro forma for a 5,000 seat indoor facility and a 1,780 seat indoor facility. Those are being updated for 3,000 fixed seats expandable by 1,250 temporary seats. Those updated figures, along with updated construction estimates should be available by mid-October.

If there are detailed analytics and operating pro forma for the outdoor stadium, they aren’t public yet. Since that project is proposed to have a private operator, that kind of data may be proprietary.

What does this facility have to do with destination marketing?

Marketing is about promotion, price, and PRODUCT. We are in desperate need of weather-impervious winter facilities to attract winter visitors and their spending. Sports and conventions are the most efficient generators of visitor volume, and sports is more recession-proof than convention business.

We are also the hospitality industry leadership organization, and work in service to the long-term health of our community and hospitality industry. This project serves both and is a win-win for long term investment that makes this a better place to live, work, play and VISIT.

Destination marketing organizations like Travel Lane County have evolved over time into destination management organizations.  This is reflected in the addition of the sports commission and resourcing a destination development manager position that works with communities to develop and fund destination product. 

Why haven’t I heard about this until now?

An indoor multi-use sports facility has been in the works for about five years as a possible local project, but no site has been committed to date. The Lane County Fairgrounds is undergoing a master planning process. We were patiently waiting for this facility to be considered as part of that process. When use of transient lodging taxes (visitor industry funds) started to be discussed as a possible funding mechanism to build facilities at the fairgrounds before the master planning process was complete, we quickly got involved. We are now working to catch up and inform stakeholders.