Willamette Begins Renovations at Sparks Athletic Center, McCulloch Stadium

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University has started renovations on the Sparks Athletic Center to create a highly functional space for the many students, faculty, staff and community members who have made the building an important area on campus. In addition, renovations have begun at McCulloch Stadium, where the football field and track will be replaced.

The Sparks Center project includes two phases of work. Preliminary set-up is already underway for Phase 1, which will be completed with work this summer and during the fall of 2013. Fundraising continues for Phase 2, which is scheduled to begin shortly after Phase 1.

An anonymous donation of $3 million from a Willamette alumni family provided the catalyst to begin the project. An additional $3.5 million will be raised, including $1.5 million already raised to complete the initial phase of renovation. To make a gift to the renovation project you can donate online or contact the Willamette Development and Alumni Relations Office at (503) 370-6552.

During Phase 1, the primary areas of focus will be the expansion and updating of the fitness center as well as the creation of two multi-purpose recreation rooms. The fitness center will be located on two levels and will cover an area that is approximately twice the size of the existing room.

In addition, Phase 1 includes improvements and expansion of the sports medicine center. It will be located near the fitness center, and will feature a new exam room, a hydrotherapy room and additional floor space.

Phase 2 of the project will include changes, additions and upgrades to locker rooms and team rooms on the lower level of the building. The project will increase the locker room space available for teams, intramural activities and community use.

Also included in the renovation plans are a new entrance to the fitness center, an attractive lobby area and an improved heating and cooling system.

Fortis Construction, known throughout the Pacific Northwest as a top building and renovation company, is the general contractor for the project. Hennebery Eddy Architects is providing architectural services.

Sparks Athletic Center was constructed in 1974 and has served Willamette and the nearby community for nearly 40 years. So much has changed since the building opened, as Willamette's athletic teams have grown, intramural offerings have grown, and a greater percentage of students, faculty and staff have become focused on fitness and health. The renovation project will address many of the needs for expanded fitness, sports medicine, locker room and meeting space.

A temporary fitness center has been created in Cone Field House. It will be open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Renovation also has begun at McCulloch Stadium, where the artificial turf at Ted Ogdahl Field has been removed. A new synthetic playing surface will be added, which will update the competition area for Willamette's home football games, track and field meets and intramurals. The Charles Bowles Track also will be updated this summer.

You can follow the renovations of the Sparks Athletic Center, the football field and the track through weekly updates on Facebook. Check for updates on the Sparks Center on Tuesdays, with updates for the football field and track available each Thursday.

Also, go to the Sparks Renovation web page for additional information.

Part of the main entrance to the Sparks Center is fenced off due to renovations.

Part of the main entrance to the Sparks Center is fenced off due to renovations.

Temporary walls have been erected inside the Sparks Center to separate the construction zone from the rest of the building.

Temporary walls have been erected inside the Sparks Center to separate the construction zone from the rest of the building.

A temporary fitness center has been created inside Cone Field House.

A temporary fitness center has been created inside Cone Field House.

The surface of Ted Ogdahl Field has been removed to allow a new synthetic playing surface to be installed.

The surface of Ted Ogdahl Field has been removed to allow a new synthetic playing surface to be installed.