The challenges of playing outdoor sports during winter will soon no longer be an issue for students at Eastern Oregon University.
The Oregon Legislature approved $9 million in state bonds for construction of a Fieldhouse on the school’s main campus in La Grande. When completed, the 66,000-plus square-foot, multi-use indoor facility will be the first new building constructed at the university in nearly 30 years.
“The Fieldhouse provides a flexible indoor space unavailable anywhere else in eastern Oregon, southeast Washington, and western Idaho,” said EOU President Tom Insko. “One of our goals as an institution is to create a campus that promotes a vibrant and engaging student life, while inviting prospective students, faculty, staff and others to take part in an active and thriving community. This project represents an incredible new energy at EOU, and I look forward to seeing it take shape.”
The venue provides classroom and lab resources for the Physical Activity & Health and Outdoor Recreation & Leadership programs, indoor practice space for EOU athletics and new space for rock climbing. The facility will also offer opportunities for area schools, wellness activities, local and regional events, sports camps and athletics for high schools. Conferences, concerts and trade shows could also access the venue, bringing significant economic benefits to the region.
“A facility like this will significantly drive our impact on the region,” said Tim Seydel, vice president for University Advancement. “For students and communities throughout the region, EOU and our programs are key to helping support education, engagement and economic development.”
Representative Greg Smith (R-Heppner) serves as co-vice chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the entire state budget, and supported the project during hearings in February, along with Rep. Greg Barreto (R-La Grande) and Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Pendleton).
“Eastern Oregon University is our rural university,” Smith said. “This facility will help recruit and keep our Eastern Oregon athletes and youth in Eastern Oregon.”
The lottery-backed bonds used to fund the project will be sold in spring 2019 and construction is expected to begin later that year.