The Gateway is half open, and Mike Westfall doesn’t intend to stop now.
Eastern Washington Universtity’s vision for a multimillion-dollar, multiuse facility came into sharper focus this month – partly through a book full of schematic drawings but mostly because Westfall hasn’t eased up on a project that he says will raise the profile of the institution as well as the athletic department.
“I’m the vice president for advancement, not the vice president for status quo,” Westfall said in his office Thursday afternoon as he distributed freshly-printed schematics of the 346,000-square-foot project. Those same drawings will be distributed to interested parties at Eastern’s FCS playoff game Saturday at Roos Field.
The vision is easier to share when it’s put to paper, Westfall said. “So now we can actually engage people with an actual drawing. As people see the vision, they’re taken aback.”
Westfall said a website dedicated to the project will go up eventually.
Earlier this month, Westfall presented a status report to the Board of Regents and the EWU Foundation Board. Ultimately, both governing bodies must approve the project, which is estimated to cost $60 million to $70 million.
Both boards were shown schematic designs that, according to Westfall, “focused on what it is, what it looks like, what programs it will serve, impacts on campus, and how much it will cost.”
“Right now they’re excited about the vision but it’s tempered because they want to see how this plays out,” said Westfall.
The project envisions adding several thousand seats at Roos Field, boosting capacity beyond 18,000. Other amenities include athletic facilities, band lockerrooms, offices, and retail space. The latter is expected to generate revenue once the project becomes a reality.
Westfall said the Gateway Project has already drawn interest from several prospective commercial tenants, including two banks, a health-care company, a restaurant and others.
The next phase, Westfall said, is to identify lead donors who will commit to funding the project once the boards approve. Westfall added that he expects to know “within a week” whether a donor will commit to a $5.5 million gift that would allow completion of the design phase.
That would allow the school to continue fund-raising while not losing momentum.
“I’m confident that if we generate the interest, which we are, and if we are able to document that, then that approval will come,” Westfall said.
During the next year Westfall said he plams to work with both boards to review the financial data, including expected revenue and operating costs.
Most importantly, Westfall said “We have identified a number of individuals that have the potential to fund this entrirely, and we are in the process of sharing with them the vision for this project and go from there.”