EUGENE, Ore. — The city of Eugene is facing a budget deficit that could lead to fewer library branches and fire trucks. But it could soon be one step closer to owning Civic Stadium.
The city says the $4.5 million it would use to buy Civic Stadium would come from park acquisition funds raised through a city bond.
Now that the 4J superintendent is recommending the city’s plan, the city is hopeful the school board will follow the superintendent’s recommendation.
Eugene 4J Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s recommendation for the city’s purchase of historic Civic Stadium came as a bit of a shock to one city official.
“I was thrilled and very pleasantly surprised, and it’s great news. It’s great news for the people that want to see that space preserved as public space and return to active public use of sports and entertainment venue,” said George Brown, Eugene City Councilor.
Brown says he’s rallied for years to save the historic ballpark, and now that dream could become a reality for the city.
“Give the city a chance to keep maintaining public use and we think that’s a public benefit, a community benefit, so clearly that was an advantage that the city had,” Berman said.
The city says not one penny would come from the general fund for the purchase.
“The plan puts the city at absolutely no financial risk,” Brown said.
The $4.5 million would come entirely from park bonds. That’s money that can only be used for acquiring lands like the historic ballpark.
“That money cannot be used to help balance the deficit in the general fund. It just can’t, and the way the city’s conditions are structured is that no general fund money will be used for the rehabilitation,” Brown said.
So if the board agrees with Berman, the city will have to find someone to fund the renovations in the next nine months.
“I’ve been talking to groups for three years, as have other councilors. The mayor’s had sessions with interested groups, and so the hope is that they step forward and present more detailed plans to make it all work,” Brown said.
The school board will discuss the future of the ballpark Wednesday night at its regular meeting. It will then make the final decision on which bid to accept on Feb. 19.