PSU plans Stott Center facelift

When McArthur Court was deemed no longer suitable and the Ducks were in need of an upgrade, the University of Oregon’s solution was to move forward with plans to build a new $200 million arena that relies solely on state funding.

When McArthur Court was deemed no longer suitable and the Ducks were in need of an upgrade, the University of Oregon’s solution was to move forward with plans to build a new $200 million arena that relies solely on state funding.

At Portland State, the solution for the aging, cramped Peter W. Stott Center is a stark contrast to its counterpart’s in Eugene. Rather than building an entirely new venue, athletic director Torre Chisholm plans to perform a $30 million to $40 million renovation of the Stott Center, which will be privately funded and could break ground as early as April 2010.

“I think it’s necessary for athletics, and I think it’s necessary for the university,” Chisholm said of the renovation. “We have 25,000 students, and we have no place where a good number of them can come together for common events. I think it’s about time for the university to have a significant events center.”

Once the Stott Center receives its makeover, it will still house the Portland State volleyball and basketball teams. However, Chisholm envisions the new venue to be a community center, where concerts, distinguished speakers and congregations of student groups are also held.

“What we envision is a venue that would host 150 events a year. And only 50 of them are going to be athletic events,” Chisholm said. “It would be a facility for the campus and the community for significant events.”

The centerpiece of this renovation project is an arena that could hold as many as 4,500 people, a considerable increase from the Stott Center’s current maximum capacity of 1,500.

“Right now the gym doesn’t reflect the kind of talent that Portland State has,” said sophomore forward Kyle Coston. “And it gives the fans more of a college experience, because now it’s like a high school game.”

In addition to the increased seating of the arena, Chisholm said there are plans to create a concourse area that has updated concession stands between the lower and upper seating bowls. Other additions include a section of three suites and a hospitality room that would be more spacious than the suites for large groups or companies to rent.

To increase the arena seating capacity, the south wall of the Stott Center gym must be removed and the hardwood floor will run from north to south instead of east to west, like it is now. Chisholm said this change will allow for enough room to create lower and upper bowls and incorporate suites into the configuration.

“Nothing against the Stott Center, but it’s just a gym. We need an arena to bring Portland State one notch up,” said head women’s basketball coach Sherri Murrell. “It would still have that intimate setting that the players just love about the Stott Center.”

A glass front that extends past where the concrete steps are currently located at the entrance of the Stott Center is also in the works. Banners would adorn the glass entryway that leads into an expansive lobby with a hall of fame comprised of standalone kiosks and displays for fans to survey as they pass through, Chisholm said.

On the main level, Chisholm said he hopes there will be enough space to consolidate all of the coaches and administrators’ offices in the Stott Center, thereby relocating the main athletic department office that currently rests on the other side of campus at Southwest Hall and Sixth avenues.

“It will be nice just to get everyone housed over there,” Murrell said. “To get everyone under one roof would be great.”

The bottom level of the Stott Center would be completely made over also, with the major change being the elimination of four racquetball courts to clear out space for a full-length gym. Locker room space will also be increased for all teams, a need, according to Chisholm and Murrell.

Other renovations include making improvements to the tennis courts so they are a usable competition space and the removal of the pool that is presently on the bottom floor. The new recreation center that is currently in construction will house a pool and multiuse athletic courts.

Gathering the funds

Raising funds for the renovation project could take up to 24 months and require the work of three staffers, Chisholm said, because of the sheer amount of money–the most recent estimate is $35 million–and the fact that it will be made up entirely of private support.

Before the fundraising effort can be launched, Chisholm said it is necessary for the new university president to be hired. While interim President Michael Reardon approves of the renovation project, according to Chisholm, Reardon believes it would be unfair for him to sign off on a major project just before the permanent president is announced.

“Put everything in place so we’re ready to move forward, and when the new president comes on, this will be one of the first things they have to tackle as a significant improvement for campus,” Chisholm said.

With the focus of this project to be a campus event space, Chisholm thinks there may be an opportunity to tap into donors who are not typical supporters of the university or athletics ventures.

“We think it might create an opportunity to outreach to people in this community who haven’t typically been a part of the Portland State supporters–who would see the value of a downtown events center,” Chisholm said.

Castle of Glanville

The name Portland State athletics has slapped on the $175,000 to $200,000 renovation of the football locker room is “Phase .5” because it is not technically a component of the overall Stott Center makeover but will significantly enhance the building’s appearance.

Currently, the locker room is divided into two separate sections, making it nearly impossible for the entire team to congregate in one location so head coach Jerry Glanville can address all his players at once. The plan is to eliminate the sections and configure the locker room so when the players are at their lockers, they are facing an open space in the middle, where Glanville is likely to stand.

“What we’re doing for football is going to become their permanent footprint. And then when we do the bigger renovation we’ll add some extra space,” Chisholm said.

The carpeted locker room will house over 100 lockers and is expected to begin in April and finish sometime before the football season kicks off.

Denny Ferguson, director of new business development, is spearheading the fundraising effort, which includes selling the naming rights to individual lockers for $1,500 and one of the four quadrants for $25,000. Each of the locker room’s quadrants will be named after one of Portland State’s historic coaches, including Darrell “Mouse” Davis, Don Read, Tim Walsh and Pokey Allen.