School board votes 6-1 to accept City of Eugene plan for Civic Stadium

School board votes 6-1 to accept City of Eugene plan for Civic Stadium
Eugene Civic Stadium

EUGENE, Ore. - A majority of the Eugene 4J School Board voted in favor of the City of Eugene's plan for Civic Stadium on Wednesday night.

The 6-1 vote came after the board discussed the superintendent's recommendation to go with the city's plan over competing proposals from the YMCA and a developer working with Fred Meyer.

"We're going to make some people happy and we're going to make some people not so happy," said board member Mary Walston, "but after this vote, let's set our differences aside and move forward together for our kids. So with that desire to honor kids, grandkids and the community trust I will be supporting Dr. (Sheldon) Berman's recommendation."

The City's offer of $4.5 million from dedicate parks and recreation bond money plan is contingent on finding a third party to renovate, maintain and operate the stadium. The City Council has given interested parties until August to raise the money.

One of the keys to Berman's proposal: that the City of Eugene would be the most likely to close the deal quickly and get the money in the hands of the districts. Both the Y and Fred Meyer would require sorting out land use and infrastructure details, which could have taken longer than the City's plan to finalize.

Background

The Eugene Emeralds played their final innings at Civic Stadium in September 2009, losing 5-3 in front of 5,000 fans.

In the years since, the owner of the stadium - the Eugene 4J School District - has sought to dispose of the property.

Efforts to do so in 2011 brought forth 3 competing proposals:

  1. Preserve and restore the historic wooden ballpark as a stadium
  2. Build a new Eugene YMCA
  3. Build a retail shopping center anchored by a Fred Meyer

The school board rejected all three offers in 2011.

In 2013, they sought new proposals.

Essentially three competiting proposals emerged - and it was like deja vu all over again.

One new component: The City of Eugene joined the bidding, offering to buy the property if a private entity would come forward to rehabilitate and run the stadium.

One key difference: a new superintendent, Sheldon Berman, who recommended the school board go with the City's proposal.

Berman's predecesor George Russell had recommended the Fred Meyer development in 2011.