Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

EWU board approves new stadium concept

 

Last updated 9/9/2019 at 5:06pm

Contributed photo Eastern Washington University

An aerial view from the northeast of the proposed renovations for Eastern Washington University's Roos Field is shown above.

Eastern Washington University's Board of Trustees unanimously took a step to upgrade the university's aging and out of date Roos Field football stadium by approving a $25 million package at a special meeting today (Sept. 6) that relies solely on private funding.

Vice President for University Advancement Barb Richey told the board that the funding level could be reached within 24 months. One part of that package, a $1.3 million replacement of the iconic Red Turf could begin as early as the end of the 2019 football season.

"This is definitely reasonable," Richey said of the funding. It's responsible. It's reachable."

The pre-design plans presented by ALSC Architects of Spokane are the result of a stadium renovation task force commissioned by university President Dr. Mary Cullinan that meet over the summer. The board consisted of four trustees and four members of the EWU Foundation.

Trustee and task force member Robert Whaley said the task force wanted a plan that could be done in stages as other improvements to athletic facilities take place. Whaley stated the task force also wanted to a proposal that wouldn't take any funding away from academics.

"It's the number one thing we do," Whaley said.

The proposal would provide 8,612 seats, essentially the same as today's facilities. There would be significant changes in how those seats, and the rest of the stadium, would look.

The proposal calls for removing the existing track and bringing the western 5,121 seats 26 feet closer to the field, allowing a wide, inside concourse for a new concessions area inside the stadium in view of the field. The expanded seating would be more accessible, and would also begin to wrap around the stadium "bowl" on the northern and southern ends. The existing north stands and the concessions area on the south would be removed.

"That's really valuable space for pre-game usage," ALSC architect Rustin Hall told the board.

The current three-level press box would also be remodeled to feature only suites and club style seating, along with expanded amenities. Two upper level wings accessible from the second level of the press box would provide up to 198 covered, heated club seats. On the east side of the field, the existing bleachers would be removed and a 3,000 seat seating section the same height as the western section would be built - likely including a students' section.

The eastern section would include a shorter press box for media members and coaching staffs. The upgrades would increase the number of seatbacks from 480 to 1,275 and add 168 main concourse loge seats.

The board's approval came with some dissension, however. Incoming associated student body president Key Baker questioned why the board was voting on the stadium proposal when students were not in session, and asked why student input was not sought.

"There are bigger issues on this campus than a new stadium for our football players," Baker said, listing food insecurities and faculty discrimination, among several issues.

Board vice chair Vicki Wilson said the trustees would not address those questions at that time.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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