LA GRANDE — The construction of a $9 million field house at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande is underway.
Preliminary work on the new building started last week on the southeast edge of EOU’s campus where the old Snowflake baseball field once was.
The project is expected to be completed by spring of 2022, according to John Garlitz, EOU’s director of facilities and planning.
The field house will be between 50,000 and 74,000 square feet in size and between 35 and 40 feet tall. Oregon Lottery funds are covering the cost of the project, which the Legislature earlier approved. The completion of the building in 2022 will represent Phase 1.
After that comes an expansive concrete floor that athletic teams will be able to use for workouts, classrooms for health classes and space for EOU’s outdoor program.
A 200-meter track also will be added in Phase 2 after additional money is raised, Garlitz said. Original plans called for the field house to have a 200-meter track after Phase 1. Plans were changed, though, because of delays in the construction project, during which time expenses increased.
Construction of the field house was supposed to start in April, but the pandemic made it more difficult to get building supplies, Garlitz said.
Ben Welch, EOU head men’s and women’s track and field and cross-country coach, said the building in place after Phase 1 will be a big plus for the track teams, giving them more space to work out in the winter. The teams now do their winter workouts in a small gym at Quinn Coliseum.
Welch said he is happy to see work on the field house starting after a number of delays.
“It was a big relief,” Welch said.
The Mike Becker General Contractor Co., of La Grande, is in charge of the field house project as its design building contractor. Presently gas, electrical and water utilities are being installed at the site of the future field house.
Garlitz said an immediate goal is to have the concrete foundation of the field house completed before winter.
“We want to get the foundation in before (the weather) freezes,” he said. “It is more costly to put a foundation in during the winter.”