New facility will boost capacity for PSU athletics and other events

COURTESY: PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY - Inside and on level two of the planned Viking Pavilion, which will serve as the new home of Portland State basketball and volleyball, starting in 2018.Come April Fools' Day 2018, a new age is scheduled to dawn for the Portland State University athletic department.

April 1, 2018, is the tentative opening day for the upgraded Peter W. Stott Center, including the Viking Pavilion — a new arena that will seat about 3,000 fans for basketball.

The $50.1 million renovation is a joint project of PSU and Oregon Health & Science University. In addition to holding about 50 Viking sports events each year, the facility will house OHSU events and can be rented.

In fall 2017, Portland State volleyball will play its home matches at Concordia University.

Portland State is working with Lewis & Clark College to play its men's and women's basketball home games there next season, though no agreement has been finalized, according to Mike Lund, PSU associate athletics director for media and communications.

Basketball schedules usually are finalized in the spring. PSU men's basketball also will play three games in the fall in the PK80 tournament, which is booked for Memorial Coliseum and Moda Center.

Lund said under "strong consideration" is to have the first official event be PSU's "Night of Wine and Roses" fundraiser, which is scheduled for April 28, 2018.

Except for PSU sports, the university's Conferences and Events office is responsible for scheduling all events. The arena is expected to play host to lectures, graduations and more.

"This is for the entire university. This is going to be a civic building that will connect not just Portland State students to athletics but the entire (Portland) community to campus," former PSU Athletic Director Mark Rountree says. "If your aspirations are to be one of the top urban institutions in the West, and you want to have lecturers come in, then you need to have a facility that can warrant that."

Rountree, who left PSU in December to take the assistant AD job at Georgia Tech, credits Stott and PSU President Wim Wiewel for getting the project underway. Stott has been a major donor to PSU, and the renovated center will continue to bear his name.

Rountree says the project is expected to stay within its $50.1 million budget. About $24 million is coming from state bonds, $7.5 million from OHSU, and $1.5 million from PSU student fees.

The remaining $17 million will come from philanthropic donations. According to Lund, fundraising is ongoing and is nearing the amount needed.

The 3,000 capacity for basketball will be double that of the existing Stott Center.

Rountree says the capacity — 3,800 for concerts, lectures and graduations — was arrived at after the building's footprint, construction costs and market research were considered. He says an initial study suggested a 5,000-seat facility.

"Whether you build it for 5,000 seats or 3,000 seats, the kind of events you're going to attract are going to be the same," Rountree says.

Val Cleary, who took over as athletic director Jan. 1, says the pavilion will improve the university's connection with Portland and be a game-changer for the teams that will play there.

"The landscape of Portland State athletics is just going to change tremendously with the pavilion opening up," she says. "That's going to totally change our operation in terms of men's and women's basketball and volleyball."

The project already has helped the PSU football program. The first phase involved replacing a swimming pool with an 8,000-square-foot weight room, which is being used by PSU athletes and is substantially larger than its predecessor. The PSU Academic and Recreation Center, which opened seven years ago, has a pool.

The existing Stott Center basketball court is being used this season, even as foundation and structural work goes on where the new pavilion will rise.

The existing court will remain as a practice court and be available for small-scale events. It will be moved slightly to accommodate new offices along the north side.

The facility will include all athletic department offices, classrooms for university courses, and student lounge spaces. No physical education classes will use the building — none use the existing Stott Center.

About 250,000 to 350,000 people are likely to visit the new facility each year, Lund says.

No public parking will be added, though. Lund says the university had extensive discussions about adding parking, but the consensus is that the nearly 4,000 parking spaces managed by PSU will provide adequate parking for pavilion events.

Lund says Parking Structure 3, on the northwest corner of campus, is the least-used of the university's parking structures and most likely will be the main parking spot for events.

Cleary notes that mass transit serves the campus well, and that many fans use light rail to reach Providence Park and Moda Center. 

OHSU and other PSU activities will have scheduling priority once Vikings' sports and PSU commencement are booked.

Lund says the Oregon School Activities Association has expressed interest in staging high school tournaments at the pavilion.

"We would certainly welcome that and expect that to occur on some level for a variety of sports," Lund says. "Other tournaments and Portland events would also be scheduled. In the past, the Stott Center has held many events in the current gym, including high school graduations and proms."

The entire facility will be the Peter W. Stott Center. The Viking Pavilion will be the arena portion of the building. Not yet finalized is what the Vikings basketball and volleyball teams will call their new home.

"Whether we will say that the teams will be playing at the Peter Stott Center, the Viking Pavilion or at the Viking Pavilion at the Peter Stott Center has not been determined," Lund says.

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