Tag Archives: Essays
Late last week, a momentous decision was reached — a “minor miracle,” in the words of a Eugene city councilman — regarding the history of Civic Stadium near downtown Eugene. The Eugene Civic Alliance, a nonprofit group comprising Lane United FC managing director Dave Galas, Kidsports executive director Bev Smith, and several other community leaders, was able to show the City of Eugene that they had raised the $4.1 million necessary to purchase the Civic property. The facts and recent history of the deal have been well-reported in the local media; the long and short of it is that, pending the closing of the deal at the end of March, Civic Stadium will be in new hands.
It will be the first change of ownership for the stadium since its construction in 1938. The 4J Public School District has been the exclusive owner of the stadium since then, and it was used for its first few decades of existence as a venue for high school sports and graduations. In 1969, the Eugene Emeralds minor-league baseball team moved in and stayed for 40 years, fielding future Major League stars along the way like Eric Davis, Mike Sweeney, Larry Bowa, and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. Longtime residents of Eugene know the stadium best as the venue for relaxing summer evening baseball games during the Emeralds’ residence there. The Emeralds, who left Civic after the 2009 season for PK Park at the University of Oregon, were one of the major donors in the fundraising effort that allowed the Eugene Civic Alliance to purchase the property.
“The site was originally envisioned and has always been used as a community gathering place, and it was built in substantial part by volunteers who embody that spirit,” said Dave Galas, the Lane United managing director who also serves on the Eugene Civic Alliance. “I’m just glad that the community, even 75-plus years on, stepped up and was able to preserve it as a space that everyone can benefit from.”
Lane United has long been mentioned as a future tenant of a refurbished stadium, but the Eugene Civic Alliance’s plan makes it clear that many others will benefit from the renovations too. Kidsports will be helped immeasurably by having its own gym space in the form of a new fieldhouse that is intended to be built on the property, and most outdoor field sports will be able to use the new playing surface that will be installed.
“I’ve always seen Civic Stadium as the perfect venue for LUFC, but we have to take care to do what’s right for the club and what’s right for the community. The research I’ve done bears that out — that it’s ideal for all, because of the walkability, bikeability, integration with the surrounding neighborhood, access to public transit, everything. The Eugene Emeralds’ endorsement [David Elmore owns the Emeralds and is a part-owner of Lane United] of the Civic Alliance shows their dedication to the community, and that having a multi-use facility like this — great for families, sports fans, really for any type of event — near the heart of the city just makes the city so much more attractive, to an outsider or to residents, both.”
Galas has said that any talk of a timetable for completing the renovations that would allow Lane United to play at Civic would be “premature,” given the reliance on continued fundraising. But the list of necessary renovations for the stadium has been known for some time now, and Galas and others have pointed out elsewhere that the damage is mostly “cosmetic.” All but two of the 360 old-growth timbers used to build the stadium remain structurally sound 75 years on. Immediately following the closing of the sale this month, the Friends of Civic Stadium will be approached to pay for renovation of the stadium roof with funds from their own escrow account.
Though the timing remains uncertain, the dream that Lane United will one day play in a refurbished Civic Stadium, hard by downtown Eugene and serving as a healthy vibrant hub for the city’s active community, is now set to become a reality. From the entire Lane United FC community, we thank you for supporting all the Civic-related initiatives over the past few years and urge you to continue supporting the Eugene Civic Alliance in the years of hard work that lie ahead.
When Lane United FC midfielder Christian Dietrich was a teenager in Germany, he trained in the youth academy for FC Union Berlin, whose home ground is the uniquely named Stadion an der Alten Försterei — the Stadium by the Old Forester’s Shed. But when he plays for Lane United this summer, he’ll be performing in front of a veritable army of foresters in the form of the Red Aces, Lane United’s official fan club.
The Red Aces have begun an initiative to plant western redcedar trees at the south end of the Willamalane Center’s fields for each home goal that the Reds score there this year. Dave Galas, Lane United’s managing director, said that the Willamalane Center had at one point intended to plant a row of trees at the southern boundary of the property, adjacent to the train tracks, as part of the facility’s expansion plans. However, budgetary restraints ended up scuppering that part of the project. A local commercial nursery recently stepped up to donate the new trees to the Red Aces, he said.
The initial hope was that the Red Aces would be able to plant only dawn redwoods for the project. The dawn redwood is the tree symbolically represented on the Lane United crest, adopted as an official icon of the club for its rareness and local historical significance. However, Galas’ wife, Arica Duhrkoop-Galas, a landscape architect who teaches planting classes at the University of Oregon and has been leading the initiative, said that the availability of dawn redwood saplings from local nurseries was limited compared to that of the western redcedars.
A western redcedar will be planted for each home goal, and a dawn redwood will be planted for each year of the club’s existence. Duhrkoop-Galas said that the trees will be four to seven years old and about eight feet tall at the time of planting. The dawn redwoods will grow faster, but both types of trees will be mature after ten or fifteen years, she said. The planting will take place all at once in November or December at the onset of the rainy winter season.
Dave Galas said he came up with the idea for the initiative from similar projects that the Timbers Army has undertaken, planting trees in neighborhoods around Portland. According to him and his wife, there are no plans to cease the trees-for-goals initiative on Lane United’s end; if space runs out at Willamalane, they may consider other sites such as state parks. Duhrkoop-Galas added that any dawn redwood that grows to maturity makes an important contribution to the genetic variation of the species, since the local population is currently so small.