City officials are debating the outlines of a potential $15-million bond issue for a new Eugene Emeralds ballpark, as the team is working to close a funding gap for the proposed $100.5-million facility at the Lane County Fairgrounds.
The Northwest League’s Emeralds play at PK Park on the University of Oregon grounds. While it’s a pleasant environment on the fan side, it won’t come close to meeting new MiLB facility standards set for 2025 and apparently the university isn’t interested in funding any upgrades; hence the need to seek a new ballpark. There exists the very, very real possibility Eugene could lose its player-development license without the prospect of a new ballpark.
The solution has been a proposed new Eugene Emeralds ballpark at the Lane County Fairgrounds. Right now there’s a $43-million gap in funding for the $100.5-million facility, and the team has been working with the city on a bond issue to cover $15 million of that shortfall.
The debate has really centered so far on whether the ballpark bonding will go to referendum on its own or whether it’s grouped with two other projects. The current status has the ballpark funding ask on its own. From the Eugene Register-Guard:
They also have said the stadium would be a multi-use facility, hosting large events such as concerts and community events such as high school baseball tournaments, graduations and events put on by local nonprofits. They say it would improve other events held at the Lane Events Center and bring in commerce that would revitalize the area around the fairgrounds and Eugene more broadly.
“It’s so much more than baseball,” Emeralds’ Assistant General Manager Matt Dompe told councilors. “It’s about having that place where we can all come together. That communal spot where we can have shared experiences as Eugeneans. Minor league baseball teams, they reflect their community. As a father, I would hate it if my two little girls didn’t get a chance to keep going out to the ballpark.”
Opponents of the project have said the stadium will increase noise and traffic to an otherwise residential neighborhood, take up space at the events center in a way that harms other events held there, hurt the event center financially and that public money shouldn’t be spent on a facility for a private company.
Images courtesy Eugene Emeralds.