Alumni family offers $3 million gift to renovate Sparks Center

On Sept. 25, a Willamette University alumni family, who have requested anonymity, offered to match donations up to $3 million toward the renovation of the Lestle J. Sparks Center, the university’s athletic facility.

“I’m pleased to announce this exceptional gift,” said Willamette University President Steve Thorsett. “Co-curricular programs and users have changed significantly since the Sparks Center was built in 1974. Athletic programs and activities continue to grow, but many students also pursue health and fitness independently. This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance this aspect of our students’ experiences.”

This year, 60 percent of first year students were high school varsity athletes, and most undergraduate students participate in varsity, intramural or club sports or fitness activities and classes.

“This gift supports an important part of our community’s well-being,” said Dave Rigsby, athletic director. “I look forward to sharing more about the project as it progresses.”

When renovations begin will depend on how quickly the university raises matching funds.