Lane Events Center Master/20 Year Plan

The Lane Events Center and Fairgrounds operates on a 53-acre site within the city of Eugene. In a typical year, it hosts up to 1,000 event days with 750,000 visitors. It is financed by rentals, the Lane County Fair, and local hotel tax revenues.

See the Lane Events Center FAQ page on the Development Plan and potential Eugene Emeralds athletic facility.


Updates:

NOTE: a recent paper survey distributed around the neighborhood is not sponsored by or affiliated with the JWN, but was initiated by an individual neighbor.

Public Meetings

  • Ems Public Info Session – Falling Sky Brewery and Deli (Monroe and W. 8th/Blair) on Monday, March 7, from 6-9pm.
  • [DATE CHANGE] March 14, Ems GM Allan Benevides and LEC Director Corey Buller @ the JWN General Meeting, UMC on Olive, 6:30-8:30pm

Get more information at the LEC FAQ Page

Also watch the City Club of Eugene program of January 21, 2022: Can Eugene Save the Ems?

Register Guard February 20, 2022 story: Effort to build baseball stadium for Emeralds at Lane Events Center spurs delight, concerns

Past:

The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted to explore the Eugene Emeralds Baseball Organization and a potential facility at the Fairground


Overview

Lane Events Center is in the midst of its public comment period, which will run 6-8 months and include several phases, about the LEC’s future development (view the LEC Master Plan). There will be multiple opportunities to express your desires and concerns. The JWN Executive Board has been involved in detailed discussion about process and possible options for development.

The JWN Executive Board has not voted to support an Ems sports facility. Like the county, the Board voted to support examining the possibility of a Ems sports facility. The county has committed to see if federal and state one-use economic development funds can be used and if they can, then the Board of Commissioners will decide if they will proceed. If they do, then it a matter of how to mitigate any impacts.

The position of the Executive Board is that we would be supportive providing any serious issues would be addressed. The Ems have made a commitment to work closely with the JWN if the project goes forward. The important thing is to take a hard look at the facts, context, and reality of what development at the LEC is going to involve (see the the LEC Master Plan) and the likely options.

Funding

  • The Ems will contribute $10 million up-front to lease it for 20-years.
  • The facility will be built by the county using local businesses and labor.
  • Any public money will be “one-off” funding from state or federal government funds dedicated to economic development (if we don’t get it, another county will).
  • A slight increase in the transient room tax, a 4.5 percent tax charged on all overnight stays in the City of Eugene paid entirely by visitors or increasing the percentage already dedicated to the LEC, are also possibilities.
  • The public will own 100% of the facility and will use it for other purposes when the Ems are not utilizing the facility.
  • LEC is self-supporting, which means that it generates the money needed to operate it through events and vendors rentals.
  • NO tax money generated by Lane County residents will be diverted to LEC operations or construction.

Get informed – you have questions, we have some answers. Here is what we know so far:

  • Will buildings be torn down to make room for a stadium? No buildings need to be or are planned to be removed for a multi-purpose publicly-owned facility the Ems would use.
  • Won’t the multi-use facility take up most of the LEC? The size is not overly large and would be 5-6 acres of a 52 acre facility (about 10%).
  • Will this mean we will lose some of the current events, like the Home Show? A new multi-use facility won’t preclude any of the current uses. The capacity of the stadium part of the multi-use facility would be about 6000 people with an average Ems game attendance of 3500 people and an average number of vehicles of 1300, far less than the LEC’s 2500 vehicle parking capacity. A multi-use facility that would include a stadium the Ems would lease is not either/or, but and.
  • How did Matthew Knight Arena impact that neighborhood? The Emerald’s architect/planner was involved as a neighbor who lives nearby when Matthew Knight Arena (12,264 seats) was built and is on the Eugene Planning Commission. She has been forthcoming about her experience. Needless to say, dealing with the LEC and the Ems will be WAY easier than dealing with the university.
  • Aren’t most games at night? What can be done about the impacts of night games?  The Ems, despite the potential financial cost in lower attendance, is moving some games to afternoons and starting other games early just to lessen impacts. No one asked the team to do that; team management did it on their own. The team and staff are sensitive to mitigating light and noise impacts.
  • How much say will we have in the design of a new sports facility? The JWN will be closely involved in the design process. LEC and Emerald’s management already has been amenable to suggestions. There will be the JWN’s typically robust public process.

The Purpose of Lane Events Center
The fact is, the Lane Events Center is for events and the mission of the LEC is to have as many events as possible because that is how it pays for itself. Everyone who lives in the JWN is well aware of the conditions that exist here and that includes having the LEC as a neighbor. Frankly, it is not reasonable to expect the facility not to be used. While the frequency of use for a multi-use facility that includes a small stadium  is high, the relative impacts compared to the County Fair, Home Show, the Lumber Industry Conference, the recent Outdoor Show, and other events are fractional. These events each draw 20-30,000 people per day compared to a maximum of 6,000 for a game (more typically 3,500).

The poor condition of the LEC’s current facilities is a direct result of insufficient income. That leads to a dis-investment spiral as the poor facilities dissuade new vendors/events and that undercuts expanded use, which denies the LEC the income to improve the facility. The income produced by a new facility will pay for a lot of improvements and, in turn, attract more investment, which equals more revenue and more local jobs. The benefits to the community are first and foremost in the minds of LEC management and the county. We all want the LEC to be more attractive, less industrial, and a better fit with the JWN’s trees and landscaping.

The LEC is a publicly-owned facility that benefits the people of Lane County and should be used to maximize the benefits. For example, if it were converted to retail and housing (not under consideration) that would mean thousands of car trips every day and adding 1000 more residents next door. Those impacts would be year-round, not seasonal. There is no scenario that does not increase use/impacts.

If not a multi-use facility then what? Any improvements will require private sector investment. Who do you want investing in the JWN? A local organization with deep roots and stellar record of contributions to the community or some out-of-state developer looking to make a quick buck who doesn’t care about Eugene? This is not just about the JWN, it is about Lane County. Losing the Ems would be a major financial hit, not just to the city but the long list of nonprofits that receive tens of thousands of dollars in support from the team’s philanthropic work.

Development is going to happen at the LEC. The primary goal is expanded use and more events, and that means more impacts. The question is not if, but how. How can we bring benefits to the JWN? How can we mitigate the impacts of current and increased use? We have already talked with Eugene Public Works about the opportunities this presents for improving JWN infrastructure from roads to bike paths and sidewalks.

The JWN Executive Board is always skeptical, but we also are realistic and pragmatic. There is plenty of public process coming and we encourage folks to get informed and have their voices heard.


Background

Lane Events Center is in the midst of its public comment period, which will run 6-8 months and include several phases, about the LEC’s future development (view the LEC Master Plan). There will be multiple opportunities to express your desires and concerns. The JWN Executive Board has been involved in detailed discussion about process and possible options for development. We are excited about the county’s desire to transform the facility, potentially:

  • Adding park space to the south and improving Amazon Creek frontage
  • Upgraded landscaping to create more of a park, and with a less “industrial” esthetic
  • Increasing pedestrian/bike pass-throughs
  • Altering entrances/exits and improving traffic flow

Understanding the Process
The LEC is county owned and controlled, which means that it do not need city approval or use permits to build on its property. Because the property has been used as an event center, the county can develop it as it wishes, regardless of public/neighborhood input. However, the JWN has had a lang-standing positive relationship with LEC management and they are committed to addressing neighborhood concerns and desires. The bottomline is that the county wants to improve the facility and increase its use, so regardless of the direction the county goes, there will be more neighborhood impacts. For the JWN, the process is largely about how any impacts can be mitigated and how development can benefit the entire neighborhood.

The City’s Role
The city does play a key role in a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) and making any changes to streets and other transportation infrastructure. The JWN already has made several requests, including a study on reverting W. 11th and W. 13th to two-way streets, adding numerous crosswalks, and completing sidewalk repairs.

Who Pays?
Any development at the LEC ranging from improving existing facilities to adding new ones will require a combination of local, state, and federal money as well as private investment. Any new facilities would be wholly owned by Lane County and either leased or rented by the event to private entities. For example, an Emeralds stadium would be publicly owned with the organization paying a large sum upfront as an advance on a multi-year lease. Any other events held at the stadium would be arranged by and generate income for the LEC. The Ems invested $2M at PK Park to help build the stadium. In exchange, the university gave them a 20-year lease agreement which runs to 2030. Obviously, they won’t see that lease through because of the contract demands of MLB.  The Ems are coming into this project with 5 times the amount of money that they did back in 2010 for essentially the same lease.

Eugene Emeralds Stadium
An Emeralds stadium with accompanying facilities is just one option under consideration and is not a “done deal.” The County Board of Commissioners simply voted to examine the possibility of a stadium complex. EMs and LEC management are working on the feasibility of a project, but there are many challenges. The EMs are on a tight timeline dictated by Major League Baseball, so a final determination should be this spring.  Major League Baseball told the Emeralds that if they don’t build a stadium to their standards by 2024, the team will be moved to another community or cease to exist at all, the team has reviewed more than dozen sites to build a multi-use stadium. A stadium would take about 5-6 acres (of the total LEC 52 acres) and would be located on the northwest corner, with the stadium bowl oriented (open end) toward the southeast. No buildings would need to be torn down to accommodate a stadium.

To put it in context:

  • The planned Emeralds stadium would seat 6000.
    • Matthew Knight Arena seats 12,364.
  • The average attendance of EMs game is 3000-3500.
    • Home Show daily attendance is 20,000+.
    • County Fair daily attendance is 15,000-24,000 on weekdays and 20,000-32,000 on weekends.
  • The average number of vehicles parked at an Emeralds game is 1300.
    • LEC currently has 2500 parking spaces.
    • The over-flow parking by the Jefferson Dog Park may be formalized.
    • The cost of a parking deck is prohibitive..

Because a stadium complex would have showers, bathrooms, and sheltered areas it would also act as a shelter in case of emergencies. The JWN is supportive of working with the EMs due to their strong record of community service and their willingness to work with neighbors. An organization like the EMS based in the JWN would be powerful ally in protecting, preserving, and improving the neighborhood.

Other Uses/Moving
When the LEC deeded the land for the Keystone Apartments permanent supportive housing project the agreement was that no more land would be taken for housing or other non-event facility purposes. Other potential development includes an RV park and small hotel. The county has decided against moving the facility out of town. Current vendors stated they were not interested in an out-of-town facility.

Supporting Documents

Addendum No. 1_LEC Master Plan