Civic Stadium strikes out with Eugene City Council

EUGENE, Ore. - The City Council deadlocked over a proposal to buy Eugene Civic Stadium, with Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy declining to cast a tie-breaking vote Wednesday.

The proposal on the table: to tap the remaining money from a 2006 voter-approved parks tax to buy the 75-year-old wooden ballpark in South Eugene from the Eugene 4J School District.

The historic grandstands would be a thing of the past under plans put forward by private and non-profit groups interested in buying the stadium.

That wasn't reason enough to move the City Council beyond a 4-4 tie on the matter.

"I don't think that we are in the position to move forward with an acquisition of this property," said Councilor Greg Evans.

"The city just simply can't afford to buy, to renovate and to maintain this property," Councilor Mike Clark said.

Other councilors called Civic an asset worth saving.

"I think the biggest risk is losing a community asset which we have an opportunity to preserve," Councilor Betty Taylor said.

"At least we would have tried to do that," said Councilor Alan Zelenka. "The risk to me would be really small."

A new appraisal of the property done for Eugene 4J pegs the value of the property at between $5.5 million to $10 million.

"This is an expert opinion," said Kerry Delf, spokesperson for the school district. "It's going to inform their decisions but it doesn't set the bottom line or a purchase price for the property."

A citizen effort to preserve the grandstands and bring professional soccer to Eugene has been one of three competing proposals in recent years.

The other plans - a mixed-used development anchored by a Fred Meyer store; and a new Eugene YMCA - might use elements of the stadium, but the historic wooden structure would cease to exist as a stadium

Supporters of saving Civic walked away disappointed Wednesday. Dennis Herbert wants to meet with City Manager "Jon Ruiz and some of our more adamant supporters to get together and show them that the community does have a plan."