Because we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a place that will help boost our kids’ health, develop our local economy and build community.
This is an opportunity for our generation to leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren. In 1938, the community united to build Civic Stadium and left an unforgettable gift to Eugene. Now, it’s our turn.
THE SPACE SHORTAGE
Civic Park will address some of the biggest problems facing our community today. The first problem is a shortage of adequate gym and field space. In recent years, Eugene has seen a net loss of eight elementary schools, as buildings were closed and schools consolidated.
“The most competitive sport in town is coaches trying to schedule gym time.”
Each closure meant the loss of access to a gym and field. With numerous youth and adult sports leagues in town, and more than 15,000 kids participating in KIDSPORTS programs alone, scheduling gym and field time has become increasingly difficult.
As KIDSPORTS Director and ECA Board Member Bev Smith says: “The most competitive sport in town is coaches trying to schedule gym time.”
THE ACTIVITY SHORTAGE
We have a second problem: Today, too many kids in our community do not get the daily physical activity they need. Many kids fall short of the accepted minimum activity level of 60 minutes per day. This problem is further compounded by the diminished role of physical education in public schools.
Here are the actual number of minutes of P.E. per day for students in Eugene School District 4J. Only one in twelve grades comes close to the recommended daily activity level:
These numbers become even more troubling when compared to obesity rates in Lane County. Currently, one in four Lane County eighth- and 11th-graders are overweight or obese, a rate that’s been climbing.
Civic Park won’t solve all our space and fitness problems, but it will be a big step forward.
MUCH MORE THAN A GYM
The core activities at Civic Park will be led by KIDSPORTS. Programs will focus less on intense competition and more on equity and a concept called “physical literacy.”
KIDSPORTS is about making sure all kids play, regardless of income or ability. Children’s programs at Civic Park will allow them to sample many sports, learn basic movement skills, grow socially, and most importantly, have fun!
Under Bev Smith, KIDSPORTS has begun a research-based project in partnership with 4J and the University of Oregon. The aim of the project is to find new and better ways to teach children physical literacy so they can stay active and healthy throughout their lives.
The new facility will allow KIDSPORTS to expand this program. As they grow, the programs at Civic Park can become a model for other communities to address inactivity and obesity rates.
Civic Park also will provide opportunities for adult and senior recreation. The fieldhouse will be a welcoming place for all to stay active and socialize in any weather.
Regional and elite sporting competitions at Civic Park will boost travel to Lane County.
Civic Park will provide a venue for regional tournaments, such as the Matt Hartner Memorial Volleyball Classic. In 2015, the tournament had to turn away 16 out-of-town teams. According to Travel Lane County, the estimated economic impact of the tournament on our community was nearly $1 million. But it could have been even greater if more facilities had been available to host matches.
Civic Park can also serve as a venue for OSAA high school championship games. Located in the middle of the Willamette Valley with easy access to I-5, Eugene is a prime location for these games. Yet, due to the lack of sports facilities, championships are rarely held in Eugene.
Regional and elite sporting competitions at Civic Park will boost travel to Lane County. Increased travel will provide income for businesses in the neighborhood and all across town. As a hub for sports and recreation, Civic Park will be an amenitity that can help attract talented young professionals to move to the Eugene area.
A PLACE TO GATHER AND MAKE MEMORIES
Finally, Civic Park will be home to Lane United Football Club, a local soccer team that plays in the Premier Development League, the highest level amateur soccer league in the country.
Lane United FC recently completed its fourth season and draws up to 800 fans to its games in Springfield. The team expects to increase attendance dramatically with a move to Civic.
As an anchor tenant, the club will support the rest of Civic Park’s programs. Additionally, the team will help to build hometown spirit, bring us together as a community, and inspire children to get out and play.