Owners vowing to build sports facility despite fire.
Civic Stadium may be gone, but a new sports complex will rise in its place, Eugene Civic Alliance co-founder Derek Johnson said Tuesday.
"I am very hopeful," he said. "If this city was called Phoenix, we would call it Phoenix Stadium because it will rise again."
A day after a massive fire consumed the 77-year-old shuttered wooden grandstand, the nonprofit alliance vowed to keep working on its goal to provide a sports complex for Eugene.
But the group will now shift gears and raise money to build an all-new sports facility, Johnson said.
"We are starting to look at what the next plan is, and how we can reimagine the place," Johnson said, during a late morning press conference on the stadium's parking lot.
As Johnson and others spoke, wisps of smoke rose from the grandstand's remains. A charred skeletal section of the grandstand was the only part of the structure left standing.
The alliance had raised more than $4 million from 120 donors to buy the shuttered wooden stadium and 10-acre property in April from the Eugene School District, with the city's help.
The group originally planned to renovate the wooden grandstand and install an artificial turf field for use by the Lane United soccer team and Kidsports.
The renovation was estimated to cost about $2.8 million, with the installation of an artificial turf field costing another $1 million.
The alliance also planned to give Kidsports part of the 10-acre property so the youth sports organization can build a $4 million to $8 million fieldhouse.
Johnson, in an interview with The Register-Guard, said the alliance had only about $200,000 on hand for the renovation.
Most of that money came from a Friends of Civic Stadium renovation fundraising drive, he said.
The alliance had planned to raise more money in the coming weeks to install a new roof on the stadium and replace two 48-foot tall wooden structural columns.
But the wooden grandstand was insured for $3 million by Berskhire Hathaway, Johnson said.
With the total loss from the fire, that means the group is likely to receive that money to start redeveloping the site, Johnson said.
He said it's too early to say whether building an all-new stadium will be more or less expensive than renovating the wooden grandstand.
"That kind of depends on what we plan to build and when," he said.
Renovating the stadium, for example, would have provided seating for 5,000 spectators, Johnson said.
But the $2.8 million renovation estimate did not cover the cost of building locker rooms, concession stands and features important in a sports stadium.
A new stadium, however, could be built in stages, starting with fewer seats in a smaller grandstand, Johnson said, That way, locker rooms and concessions could be built at the same time as the stadium's first seating area, he said.
Also, under the renovation plan, the wooden grandstand's location dictated how the rest of the property could be used, namely, where Kidsports could build its fieldhouse and the location of the site's parking lot.
But with the stadium gone, the alliance could have more options on how to redevelop the site, Johnson said.
"Right now, we have an entirely new configuration," he said.
Johnson said the design of the new facility could pay homage to Civic Stadium.
"If we could make a nod to that grandstand when we rebuild this thing, that would make us and the whole community feel better," he said.
Three city councilors spoke at the press conference, including Council President Claire Syrett, who said that "everyone at the city will stay tuned for ways that we can help" the alliance "and move forward with building something positive on this important site."
Johnson said the alliance will pay for cleaning up the stadium's charred remains.
"We are the property owner," he said. "That's our responsibility."
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