New structure could be used for hockey, high school events

It's tough to envision, because the men's basketball team has trouble filling the 1,200-seat, renovated Stott Center, but Portland State has dreams of building an arena on or near the downtown campus.

'We are going to build an -arena at some point,' PSU Athletic Director Tom Burman says. But the fund-raising and construction process 'won't start for a few years.'

The Oregon University System recently -approved $101 million in state treasury bonds for facilities projects, including $45.3 million for Portland State, ofwhich $5 million can be used for an arena that would seat 5,000 to 6,000.

The $5 million would be repaid from ticket sales, and Portland State would have to generate $20 million in private donations. Burman sees the cost at $25 million to $40 million, an amount similar to what Gonzaga has spent on its new arena.

The state must get through its current fiscal crisis, PSU President Daniel Bernstine must give the go-ahead for the project, and the Vikings must generate some excitement for their team, Burman says.

'We can do it, if we build enthusiasm in our program,' Burman says.

The Vikings, 8-9 under second-year coach Heath Schroyer, usually play before sparse home crowds.

A new arena could be used for PSU basketball games, high school sports events and graduations and possibly even Portland Winter Hawks hockey games. The Winter Hawks play many of their games at Memorial Coliseum, which could be demolished at some point to make way for other development, and they pay high rent for the games they play at the Rose Garden.

An arena location would have to include adequate parking, and 'if we can find a location with high traffic and visibility, naming rights can be valuable,' Burman says. 'We've looked at spots but (found) nothing that meets our standards.'

Other PSU projects take precedent, he adds, including an engineering building, dormitories and possibly a recreation center. An arena 'is on the back burner,' Burman says.

But given the expected rise in student population Ñ including on-campus students Ñ an arena would fit into the college's changing landscape.

'Ten years from now it will be a totally different campus,' Burman says.

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