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A New Civic Stadium

A New Eugene Emeralds Stadium is an investment in the future

By Rachel Bitecofer

Eugene is known for its vibrant, quirky community, beautiful scenery and a deep passion for sports. As the home of the Eugene Emeralds for nearly 70 years, our city has enjoyed a rich baseball tradition once embodied by historic Civic Stadium, now the site of south Eugene’s Kidsports Complex. 

Now, due to their own success in both winning games and building a loyal fan base, our Eugene Emeralds face an existential crisis: They must get the city of Eugene and Lane County to help finance construction of a new stadium or they will be forced to move to a new city that will meet the facility requirements for having a High-A affiliate minor league team. 

The city of Eugene should embrace this opportunity and build a new stadium for the Eugene Emeralds.

New infrastructure projects such as stadiums come with sometimes shocking price tags, and asking the city to find millions in additional funding at a time when parts of the city’s budget is facing budget cuts is a tough sell. But infrastructure investments not only take revenue, they make revenue.

A new stadium will provide a significant boost to the local economy and will help revitalize West 13th Avenue, which has fallen into disrepair over the past few decades. The construction phase alone would generate jobs and stimulate the local labor market. Additionally, a modern stadium will attract more visitors to the heart of Eugene, providing a much-needed lifeline to other ongoing efforts to revitalize the city center. Restaurants, hotels and retail establishments near the stadium will flourish, leading to higher revenue and job creation and, most importantly, less crime. 

Sports have a unique ability to unite communities and create a sense of belonging — especially minor league baseball, which remains one of the only family friendly budget options left in town. While a game at Autzen Stadium for a Ducks football game requires a family of four to spend hundreds of dollars, a pleasant night at the ballpark with refreshments is less than $100 total. 

The Emeralds community serves as a gathering space for people from all walks of life, fostering a strong sense of community. Families, friends and neighbors come together to support the Emeralds, forging new friendships and strengthening social bonds. Moreover, the stadium could host other events such as concerts, community fairs and youth sports tournaments, ensuring it remains a hub of activity year-round. By building a new stadium, Eugene would be investing long term in the social fabric of our community.

A new stadium for the Emeralds would have a profound impact on the local youth. In minor league call, aspiring baseball players from Babe Ruth programs get the opportunity to witness professional baseball up close and be inspired to pursue their dreams. The Emeralds collaborate with local schools and community organizations to offer educational programs, mentorship opportunities and youth leagues. Minor league baseball provides a beacon of hope for at-risk youth by fostering a love for sports and promoting healthy lifestyles among the next generation.

Building a new stadium for the Eugene Emeralds is an investment in the future of the city, its residents and the baseball community. It would invigorate the local economy, strengthen the social fabric of the community, enhance the fan experience and promote youth development. By seizing this opportunity, Eugene can solidify its status as a sports destination and create a legacy for generations to come. Let us unite behind this vision and embrace the exciting potential a new stadium holds for our city. 

If you want the Emeralds to stay here in Eugene, write, call or, better yet, visit your local city councilor and tell them you are counting on them to Save the Ems. 

Rachel Bitecofer is an elections analyst and political strategist from Eugene. Her book Hit ‘em Where It Hurts – How to Save Democracy, debuts in 2024 from Crown.


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