April 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Lane County: Ems project costs are increasing up to $300K each month

5 min read
Pat Farr calculated that Lane County will be contributing $75 million to the Emeralds multipurpose stadium project.

Lane County reported March 12 that the Emeralds project costs are rising by up to $300,000 each month.

Lorren Blythe (Lane County operations manager): In August of 2023, which was our last update to the board a little over six months ago, that update included a project estimate of $100.5 million from the design-build team. $90.5 of that was for a construction estimate and the remaining $10 million was for rebuilding the livestock arena.

[00:00:31] We learned at that time that with any orientation of the ballpark, the footprint of the facility would overlap the livestock building, causing it to need to be rebuilt.

[00:00:41] And this estimate is still based on the conceptual design from March of ’23. And cost escalation, again, due to the aging design, was estimated by our design-build team and architecture team at approximately up to $300,000 a month from September of ’23 and beyond, due to the age of that estimate.

[00:01:03] David Loveall (Lane County commissioner): Here we are six months later down the road and many, many of the same questions that I had and my fellow commissioners had have still been unanswered. We don’t have a way to the finish line. We don’t have positive partners about how they’re going to get there and it just keeps having this emotional pressure toward the county to come up with the added money.

[00:01:19] I almost feel like a parent where I’m trying to bail my kid out for his tuition in his college because he won’t go get a job. So that’s kind of how I’m feeling right now as the commissioners.

[00:01:28] You also said that the aging estimate is around $2 million or more ’cause as the design-build team said, it was about $300,000 a month times six (months). That’s about $1.8 million. Another month, we’re going to be over $2 million in excess costs, just in talking points, is that correct? (Yeah.) All right.

[00:01:47] Ryan Ceniga (Lane County commissioner): Where are we at on just getting some hard numbers and an actual plan? Where’s the stadium going to go? What happens to the livestock auction? What happens to the Oregon Logging Conference? Because these are all questions that haven’t really been answered. You know, the logging conferences came out and said, ‘We can’t do it if that stadium is anywhere where it looks like it’ll go.’ You know, that’s a big deal and we’re at this point and the fair board comes out and says they’re not a fan of it, you know, so I’m kind of like: How did we get to this point and now we’re here?

[00:02:21] Lorren Blythe: So, you know, since the project was put on hold in August, I should say prior to that, our task, our charge was to assess the feasibility of constructing this facility. It wasn’t to build it, it was assess the feasibility.

[00:02:37] Pat Farr (Lane County commissioner): You know, we’ve been painted into a corner. I will make this statement: We’ve been painted into a corner, Lane County has. When the Ems did look at other sites throughout the county, they picked ours because (and I was a part of some of the discussion on this early) because it was a better deal for them, for the owners of the Ems, for the team itself, it was, it cost them less.

[00:02:58] And that’s how we ended up with the Lane County Fairground, the Event Center property as being their final decision. I love it, great place for a stadium. But there are a lot of other things that are going into this. And at this point in time, I’m not real pleased with the way things balance out.

[00:03:14] John Q: Later, looking at all of Lane County’s contributions to the project:

[00:03:18] Pat Farr (Lane County commissioner): We’re looking at maybe $75 million that Lane County is putting in.

[00:03:27] Steve Mokrohisky (Lane County administrator): We still do have significant gaps that exist in the project. We are waiting to see what the action for the city of Eugene may be, as well as the conversations and questions around private fundraising for the project. So those are two questions as well as some others that are out there.

[00:03:42] The really significant issue that the county and the Ems need to make progress on, before a decision is made to move forward with construction, with financing and construction project, is the operating agreement.

[00:03:56] That is something that we’ve not completed and there are some big questions, part of which are the revenue sharing, those things around which the Ems have indicated, the additional $10 million that’s been discussed would potentially come from things like parking revenue and advertising, or naming rights, those types of things.

[00:04:14] We had always anticipated that that would be part of a negotiation, as part of the operating agreement, that operating revenue we would talk about.

[00:04:21] So those are the types of things that we need to work through and we would anticipate that if there is continued movement by the city, and this moves forward to the voters, that we would need to make some progress on that operating agreements and prepare to come back to you after May election with the final draft agreement for you to consider in addition to any other funding/financing questions that are still out there.

[00:04:51] So that’s really I think the county’s work over the course of the next few months will be focused on the operating agreement.

[00:04:58] John Q: The city set three conditions for the $15 million bond measure. On Feb. 21:

[00:05:06] Sarah Medary (Eugene city manager): Your discussion to this point has asked for three things from the county. You’ve asked for a commitment from them that they intend to actually fund the construction of the project; that they have a definitive plan to fill the funding gap; and that they’ve provided a guarantee or a plan for operations and maintenance that doesn’t rely on city resources.

[00:05:26] John Q: Three of five Lane County commissioners are critical of the project, costs are rising, and the county and the Ems don’t have an operating agreement yet. Will the city council go ahead with the bond election? They meet at noon on March 13.

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