Eugene’s Civic Stadium, facing a death sentence more than once over the years, may find new life as a professional soccer venue.
The former home to Eugene Emeralds franchises in the Pacific Coast League and Northwest League, Civic Stadium has sat empty since the Ems moved to PK Park. The local school board owns the facility and fielded proposals from developers to tear down the old ballpark to make way for a grocery store. To their credit, the school board has passed on these deals.
The latest proposal would keep Civic Stadium as a sporting facility, but this time as home for professional soccer. The school board is once again debating the future of the stadium, and one possible outcome could be a sale to the city, which would then fix up the old place and lease it to a United Soccer League team. From Eugene Weekly:
The question is now whether the school district and community are better served by a short-term addition to the district’s coffers or a long-term investment in the community’s future. Unlike two years ago, however, the Eugene-Springfield area is now home to a professional soccer team, Lane United Football Club, which needs a stadium.
Lane United FC President Dave Galas says he really missed walking down to Civic Stadium to watch baseball, and he started the team in part to answer the question, “Who’s going to play there?” The Lane FC proposal would call for Civic to be purchased by the city and thus stay in public hands.
In the meantime, Galas says, “We’re getting a lot of interest from a lot of different fronts: hotels wanting to affiliate with the team … all the way to the city of Springfield asking us what it would take, what we can do, to locate a USL [United Soccer Leagues] team in Springfield.” Former Seattle Sounders player and member of the philanthropic Jaqua family Nate Jaqua is ambassador for the team.
The school board is scheduled to begin discussions on the future of Civic Stadium next week.
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