Eastern Oregon seeking funding for building projects

School proposes three capital construction projects, including $8M fieldhouse

By Dick Mason, The La Grande Observer, @lgoMason

A gem of an indoor exercise facility may someday be built on a former baseball diamond at Eastern Oregon University.

EOU has submitted a request to the Oregon Legislature for the funding of three capital construction projects, including a request for $6 million for the construction of a fieldhouse to be situated in the vicinity of EOU’s Snowflake Field, where Eastern’s former baseball team played until 2006. The fieldhouse would feature a six-lane, 200-meter indoor track available for use by athletes and the community.

EOU’s track and cross country coach, Ben Welch, is excited about the prospect of having a fieldhouse.

“It would be a game changer,” he said. “Not just for me, but everyone.”

Welch said the fieldhouse would be an excellent site for indoor
athletic team practices and for the public to exercise. Should the fieldhouse be added, Welch said, Eastern, an NAIA school, would become the only non-NCAA
Division I university west of the Rocky Mountains to have a fieldhouse with an indoor track.

In addition to the $6 million Eastern is requesting from the state for the fieldhouse, $2 million more would be needed through private gifts and grants to complete the project. That would have to be raised by private gifts and grants, Tim Seydel, EOU’s vice president of university advancement, said.

According to Welch, with a creative design, the fieldhouse could be quite versatile, and used for indoor track meets, wrestling and volleyball tournaments.

Dan Mielke, dean of Eastern’s college of business and education, is also excited about the possibility of having a fieldhouse on campus.

“It would be a great addition not only for athletics but also our physical activity and health program,” Mielke said.

He noted that the fieldhouse would provide needed additional lab space for Eastern’s exercise science classes, among others.

The school’s request to the Legislature also included a $5.8 million request for renovation work at Loso Hall and $1.2 million for the establishment of an information technology center, according to Seydel. The money Eastern is requesting would come from the sale of state-backed bonds.

The $5.8 million requested for Loso Hall would be used for roof repair, renovation of its heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other upgrades. Loso Hall has not had much major repair work done since it opened in 1990, Seydel said.

“It is one of the last buildings (on campus) that has not received a major upgrade in recent years,” Seydel said.

If granted, the $1.2 million requested for an information technology facility would be spent to create a more secure and updated space for EOU’s computer infrastructure. It would, Seydel said, reduce the likelihood of university-wide technology system failures and ensure that students have ready access to high-demand online classes, systems and networks.

Seydel noted that EOU’s technology infrastructure, which includes servers and data storage equipment, is located in building sites that are at risk for flooding. A new IT center would be situated in a small new facility or incorporated into a safer building space, Seydel said.

Seydel said the layout of the current campus data centers cause cabling and management issues, and the aging electrical, heating, ventilation and cooling systems are in need of updating.

EOU’s capital construction funding request will be discussed May 5 in Salem at a meeting of the House Committee on Higher Education.

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The La Grande Observer
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