Eastern Washington University athletic director Lynn Hickey said last month that a proposal for an upgraded football stadium would be presented to the school’s Board of Trustees on Friday.
Beautiful renderings of a revamped Roos Field would be shown, she said, as well as the privately funded project’s price tag.
“I think everyone will be really pleased with what we’ll show publicly on May 10,” Hickey said in April 15 interview with The Spokesman-Review.
That didn’t happen.
On Friday, Hickey and Eastern Washington athletics administrators presented department-wide budget plans and updates, and discussed the Eagle Athletic Fund, the fundraising arm of EWU’s athletics that is up a reported 150 donors since 2018.
“I know that people are anxiously waiting for renderings and the cost to enhance the stadium,” Hickey said in the public board meeting at EWU. “But at this time we feel we need to continue to work with the architects to further review the scope of the project.
“We have done a lot of good work with (Spokane design firm) ALSC and have a really good foundation for a plan. But there have been variables that have changed, so additional review of our plan is necessary.”
Among those variables, Hickey said, is the financial climate of EWU and local school districts, forcing new Roos Field proponents to “reimagine the project.”
The university has restructured programs and cut positions to get out of a $3.6 million hole.
EWU’s athletic department is deeper in the red, chipping away at a $5 million debt.
Hickey’s goal is to present renderings and a business plan to the board in October, she said.
The Board of Trustees announced at the public meeting that an eight-member task force will conduct a comprehensive study of the stadium’s renovation project, examining EWU’s athletic fundraising history, determining fundraising potential and building a timeline for enhancement of athletic facilities, and identifying potential donors, according to the school.
“The board understands it has the fiduciary responsibility, and is required by state law, to oversee all operations of the university in a fiscally responsible fashion,” Eastern Washington board chairman Uriel Iñiguez said.
Hickey, who is spearheading the movement for a revamped stadium, adamantly voiced Roos Field’s shortcomings to the board.
“The last time there were any improvements to the stadium were in 2004, and the locker room hasn’t been touched in 20 years,” she said. “So it’s time to address one of the most visible structures on our campus, the largest gathering place for Eagles – that’s not Lake Coeur d’Alene, that’s Roos Field.”
EWU, a Big Sky Conference football power that reached the FCS national title game last season, has been passed by other programs in the conference when it comes to facilities, Hickey said: “The needs for a stadium facelift are legitimate and they must be addressed in a timely manner.”
EWU’s last push for an improved football stadium failed before Hickey’s arrival in 2018.
The Gateway Project, a $65 million mixed-use project that was proposed in 2012 with impressive artist renderings, never got off the ground.