We all know the Peter W. Stott Center, but if you haven’t noticed the big ol’ banner hanging on the Park Blocks side of Stott, then you might not know about the new Viking Pavilion.
The Pavilion will be equipped with a multi-purpose venue that will hold about 5,500 people, and it will include classrooms, upgraded workout rooms and study space. There is a mixture of feelings about the cost, necessity and use of this new renovation.
Oregon Health & Science University has agreed to donate $7.5 million in exchange for use of the building. An anonymous individual donated $5 million for the new building. PSU also received a record amount of fundraising gifts in the 2011–12 academic year, with more than $19.7 million coming in (a 37 percent increase since Fall 2010). In addition, PSU is requesting $24 million in state bonds, meaning the school has earned the means to begin renovating the new $44 million Viking Pavilion.
That’s a lot of money for a school that just raised its tuition by 4.2 percent, not to mention our athletic program, which doesn’t have the best reputation. Some say that’s why we need this upgrade. I interviewed two PSU women’s basketball players who believe the Pavilion will be really good for the entire school. With the new building will come a whole new audience. They hope that with the basketball court upgrade more supporters will be attracted to attend games.
Another big upgrade for all the people who use Stott facilities will be new weight and workout rooms. The ladies said that right now the rooms are so small it can be hard to get a full workout and do the activities they need to do in such a small space.
Director of Athletics Mark Rountree is excited for the new Pavilion. “The Viking Pavilion will kick-start a new era in athletics at Portland State,” he said in an article on goviks.com.
OHSU hopes to increase their involvement with PSU and the Portland community by contributing to the Pavilion. PSU President Wim Wiewel said in an article on goviks.com, “Collaboration between our universities was once rare.” Now the two schools are working closely together in an effort to stay connected and share resources. Because of OHSU’s hefty donation, they will have access to all the new facilities. If they decide to take advantage of the new Viking Pavilion, let’s hope there’s enough room for everyone; otherwise, this expansion for more space seems a bit redundant.
Some students aren’t convinced that the new Viking Pavilion is really necessary. For instance, when I asked around about what people thought of the new Pavilion, some had no idea it was even happening, nor that it was going to cost the school $44 million. Some non-athletes who don’t use Stott don’t see the need for the massive renovation. They would like to see that money put to better use in terms of classes, department cuts or other buildings that are used on a day-to-day basis by every student.
One student I talked to, Dana Karu, wasn’t completely opposed to the renovation but didn’t see the need for a complete tear down.
“I think it’s a waste of time and money.” Karu said. “I think the sports center we have now is sufficient. Yes, it could use upgrades, but I don’t think tearing it down and replacing it with a whole new building is a good way to go. I don’t think its spending PSU money wisely.”
PSU is not known for its sports, especially football. Football can be one of the largest incomes for a school, but it hasn’t been for PSU. What I don’t understand is this: If PSU is looking for more income from their sports leagues, why not focus more on their football reputation? As a Division I school, PSU has some credibility when it comes to sports like soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, golf and softball. But Viking football has little to no reputation.
Some question why we have a football program at all, including myself. What I found out is that PSU is required to provide a certain number of men’s sports to satisfy Division I and Title IX requirements. Meaning, PSU wouldn’t save any money from cutting football all together, because they would simply have to add another sport.
I asked student, Patrick Kinney, who uses Stott for a weight lifting class, about his thoughts on Viking football. Although he would also like to see $44 million be put to better use, he made a fair point: “In order to increase PSU’s football reputation, prospective students would probably like to see nicer facilities.”
Although I don’t believe we need a multi-purpose venue that can hold 5,500 people or spend $44 million on a new building only some students will use, I do believe there are a few perks to the new Viking Pavilion. A new facility for athletes is definitely a plus, extra study space is always needed and the hope that it brings more attention to PSU is encouraging. But it would feel better if I knew that some of the millions of dollars being used wasn’t going to just one project. The only thing we can do now is see if PSU’s intentions for the new Pavilion come to life.
As a tennis player, a personal problem I have with Viking Pavilion is that so far it has been pretty unclear what’s going to happen with the tennis courts. It seems that they will be relocated to somewhere else on campus, but it remains to be seen as to where they will go, or what they will look like.