Opinion & Editorial

Let’s build space for fun, games

For people in our community who no longer have kids or grandkids playing basketball, volleyball or other indoor sports, the realization that there isn’t adequate space for youth to practice and play may come as a surprise. After all, schools have gyms, Civic Park recently added gyms and soon a new YMCA will add more gym space. 

Our population is growing and the demand for indoor space has outpaced the availability of indoor space.

These needs for practice and league play don’t take into consideration the needs of tournament teams that are looking for practice space and space to host tournaments.

Despite recent bond measures to improve facilities, School District 4J gyms are typically unavailable for basketball tournaments. Youth who participate in tournament sports want an experience beyond rec-league play. 

It’s likely that you, or someone you know, have youth participating in tournament basketball, volleyball, cheer, wrestling or another sport. Parents of these youth are often on the road to Bend, Salem, Portland or out of state to provide opportunities for their kids to compete in tournaments. The time and money involved in these activities mounts quickly and is simply out of reach for some parents.

For Oregon Amateur Basketball (OAB), the proposed six-court facility will take pressure off local gyms and allow for smaller tournaments in the fall and spring. Many of the 100-150 team winter events I operate in Salem require 15-20 courts. These events generate greater economic impact and require access to multiple facilities. To host larger tournaments in Eugene, OAB would use its indoor facility as HQ space but would also need access to more gyms. 

The Lane Events Center hosts sports activities in structures that are past their useful life. In testimony before the Lane County Board of Commissioners, organizations like ours encouraged the Board of Commissioners to provide space for our youth to become and stay active.

An indoor facility would revitalize the campus by providing space for our organizations, along with cheerleading, wrestling, pickleball, and other indoor sports event organizations, to keep our youth active and bring visitor dollars into the region throughout the year.

The county seems to be saying the baseball stadium comes first and we understand the time constraints that are required to keep pro baseball in our community.

But we cannot wait 10-20 years for more indoor sports space. Our youth need space now. 

It’s time to come together and find a way to make both projects come to life.   

Andy Vobora is Travel Lane County’s Vice President of Stakeholder Relations.



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