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Make Ems’ New Home Very Eugene

February 25th, 2022 by dk

The Eugene Emeralds will need a new home by 2024. The team has moved up the Minor League Baseball ladder. Their traditional short-season Single-A season started late. Their season was only 38 home games, allowing the university to share PK Park. The Ems have graduated now to the High-A league, playing 60 home games.

Sharing the Ducks stadium won’t work much longer. Signage is important to both teams and not easily changed. Major League Baseball now requires extra facilities to accommodate female umpires and coaches. Status quo is losing its status. The Ems are wishing for a New Civic Stadium on the western edge of the Lane Events Center.

There are plenty of reasons why this could be a bad idea, even if it’s shown to be feasible. Sports stadiums are notoriously underutilized facilities. The “multi-use” moniker notwithstanding, most stadiums are dark almost all the time, begging for blight. Neighbors feel buffeted. A sports stadium invites crime when it’s empty and clamor when it’s full.

Building a new stadium may cost $50 million or more, not including the value of nine acres near downtown Eugene. The Emeralds don’t have that sort of money, though they have promised to contribute $10 million toward the cost. Their parent club, the San Francisco Giants, has offered nothing but moral support.

Many believe government has no business building a sports stadium for a private business. I don’t disagree. But Lane County Commissioners seem to be taking the Ems’ proposal seriously, especially if state legislators lend significant support. Nobody hopes for Eugene to lose the Ems and the summertime entertainment they have provided for 60 years. Can we craft a win-win arrangement?

Here’s an outside-the-box idea. Site and design the stadium with special attention to what goes outside the box. The playing field and facilities inside will be used only occasionally. We’ll probably have to make peace with that, unless the county requires the Ems to expand their operation to include hosting and promoting a certain number of extra events each year as a term of their lease.

No, I’m thinking about what can happen literally outside the box. The ground floor of the structure should be wrung with dozens of carnival cubicles facing out, with roll-up doors in the front and a door to shared services in the back. Each space would approximate the size of a Saturday Market booth.

Contract with Saturday Market to manage these booths year-round. We should acknowledge Saturday Market as the amazing business incubator that it is. Give the vendors access to similar spaces throughout the week and during events. Each booth would be rented separately. Give preference to businesses that commit to regular hours.

These spaces would enliven the Lane Events Center throughout the week, while also  giving Saturday Market vendors a boost. Many wish they could grow their business beyond the weekly market, but with less overhead and upkeep than a regular brick-and-mortar store.

Think of Civic Stadium, surrounded by Saturday Market. What could be more Eugene than that?

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at www.dksez.com.

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  • 1 Susie Feb 25, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    Great idea! You are Creative–hope it happens!