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A Stott Center for all

Athletic director says facility could hold more than just sports
by: , CHISHOLM

As Athletic Director Torre Chisholm forges ahead on a plan to renovate Stott Center, he is making the push not just athletics but the entire Portland State community. Chisholm and his staff are trying to gather momentum for a $35 million to $40 million project that would expand Stott Center to 4,000 or 4,500 seats and turn it into one of the premier venues in the Big Sky Conference. “We have a chance to continue to have very successful basketball and volleyball programs,” Chisholm says. “The only deterrent to recruiting and building a larger fan base is the facility. (Renovation) allows us to take significant strides toward developing dominant programs in the conference.” But he envisions an arena that also would be useful as a convocation center on the campus with the largest state university enrollment. “If you have a facility where you can bring a large portion of the student body together for shared events, it becomes a significant step in the maturation of the university and creates a better environment for student life,” Chisholm says. Chisholm’s intention would be for the arena to host 100 nonathletic events a year. “You’re looking at a model that would include a handful of concerts and a variety of cultural, student-life and distinguished-speaker events,” he says. “How great would it be to have a facility on campus in the downtown area that could serve as a venue for presidential candidates and national and international leaders to address our student body?” Stott Center — with a gym capacity of 1,500 for basketball and volleyball — also holds offices for the school’s recreation department. A new recreation center on campus is scheduled for completion in January 2010, Chisholm says, and the rec department will move there at that time. “That move creates the opportunity to re-envision what we can do with Stott Center,” he says. “We’ve been doing a lot of site planning and preparation work, so we’re ready to move the (renovation) project forward.” The PSU teams wouldn’t play in the renovated arena until at least the 2012-13 school year. Plans include a concourse area with updated concessions stands, three suites and a large-group hospitality room that has viewing potential. “It would probably be fairly similar in size and scope” to the University of Portland’s Chiles Center, Chisholm says. “The full renovation will provide a lot of other elements to the facility, including a complete renovation of the locker room and meeting rooms and improved strength and conditioning and sports medicine centers.” Men’s basketball coach Ken Bone says a better arena “would help us immensely — it’s the one missing piece.” When recruits visit, “they like the campus and the city and that we’re a competitive team, but when they walk into our arena —if I’ve been asked once, I’ve been asked 10 times, ‘Is this your practice facility?’ or ‘Is this where you play your games?’ Kids are used to being in bigger arenas, even bigger high school gyms. It’s a difficult sell.” With the upgrade, all coaches and athletic administrators would have their offices at Stott. The main athletic department office now is at 527 S.W. Hall St. Before a fundraising campaign can begin, a new school president must be on board “who will endorse the concept we’ve moved forward and give us authorization,” Chisholm says. “There are a lot of political steps you have to take to get a project going.” A president is expected to be hired in late spring. Chisholm will be looking for major business donors — and perhaps a naming-rights sponsor — in the campaign for the renovation that will be privately funded. “The facility will continue to be called ‘Stott Center,’ ” Chisholm says. “We are looking at a variety of ways to name or brand the various parts. I could see it being ‘Stott Center at something-or-other Arena.’ ” Who would conduct the fundraising campaign? “If we were going to do it right,” Chisholm says, “we’d hire a small but dedicated staff of professional fundraisers. Then we’d have a very significant and influential volunteer leadership board.” Chisholm expects the renovation to be a two-year, multiphase project. The basketball and volleyball teams would be displaced for at least one season. He says he doesn’t know where PSU would play in the interim. “We want to avoid it being two (seasons),” Chisholm says. An auxiliary gym at Stott would be remodeled so the Vikings wouldn’t have to practice off-campus, Chisholm says. Parking probably would continue to be an issue. “There isn’t a parking plan in place, other than what other (entities) on campus might be pursuing,” Chisholm says. “We have two significant parking structures in proximity to Stott, and part of our mission will be to better educate (fans) to utilize spaces. And, by the time renovation is completed, the new MAX line will be in place two blocks from the facility. “Is it ideal? Probably not. But it works well for PGE Park.” The tight economic environment won’t make it easy for the Vikings to complete the fundraising campaign. “It’s not an ideal time,” Chisholm says, “but that could change as we go through it. It’s a long fundraising process to raise the dollars we need to make this project go.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.