Construction is underway on the Viking Pavilion, a brand new venue on the Portland State campus for sports games, academic forums and other university events. The 15,000 square foot building will feature new and upgraded classrooms and sports facilities, along with an arena capable of seating 3,000 people.
The project should be completed by January 2018 and will cost roughly $50 million total, paid for primarily through philanthropic giving and state bonds, according to Mark Rountree, director of athletics at PSU.
Rountree said he hasn’t heard of any backlash against the expenditure, adding that the philanthropic donations were made to the end of improving PSU’s campus as a whole.
“It’s really two projects in one,” Rountree said. “It’s the construction of a new center, but then it’s a renovation of the existing building—the Peter W. Stott Center.”
Rountree added that the glass, glaze and open student facilities of the pavilion should help it accomplish the goal of making the new facility welcoming to students in contrast with the relatively plain Peter W. Stott Center.
“This facility will really be a reflection of a first class urban institution of the size of PSU,” Rountree said.
“I’m just frustrated in general with the amount of attention this has gotten over things that I believe should take priority,” said Associated Students of PSU Equal Rights Advocacy Director Kaitlin Hoback, referencing issues of poverty and homelessness among students at PSU.
“In general, we’re not known for being a sport school, and that isn’t a bad thing,” Hoback added, “We’re known for a lot of really great programs here, academic programs that have been really successful. Sports isn’t one of them, and that’s okay, it’s a university.”
Hoback formerly worked as a caller for the PSU Foundation, and noted that PSU puts more emphasis on “project[s] that look shiny, pretty and good for the university.”
The renovation of the Peter W. Stott Center into the Viking Pavilion is long overdue, according to Jonathan Gonzales, the Vikings football team’s kicker and health studies, physical activity and exercise major.
“I came here two years ago as a sophomore transfer and I could just kind of tell that this facility wasn’t up to date,” Gonzales said.
The older facility’s weight room was too small to accommodate the different teams that used it, Gonzales said. According to him, the new facility will offer additional space and weights along with superior air conditioning compared to its predecessor.
According to Braxton Tucker, a forward for the Vikings men’s basketball team and economics major at PSU, the upgrades to the weight room are his most eagerly anticipated part of the project. New top-of-the-line weights and turf in the weight room were particularly exciting features, he added. Tucker said that his team can do sled training in the new space, which is a part of several workout regimens he had previously heard about from other schools’ teams. The new equipment should help bring his team up to par with some of their tougher competitors, he added.
The Viking Pavilion’s capacity as a venue for large-scale events—which in the past the university has sometimes not had space for—should serve students both inside and outside the athletics program, according to Rountree. It will feature open study areas, lounges and cafes for students, he added.
“We’re really excited about how this building really is going to impact this campus and not just athletics,” Rountree said. “Yes we’ll be able to play basketball games there and volleyball games there, but [also] from the nature of really making the Park Blocks a signature area of our campus.”
The Pavilion’s large lounge areas and study areas should be beneficial to students not on PSU’s sports teams and help them mingle with athletes, Gonzales said.
“I think it will bring everyone together,” Gonzales said. “Not only just athletes, but people from outside. They’ll come here and they’ll kind of realize that this is just a place where they can hang out.”
One feature that will allow the Pavilion to serve athletes and non-athletes alike will be the construction of practice floors that PSU’s basketball and volleyball teams can utilize while sizable academic events are taking place in the main arena, according to Rountree.
Tucker said that the Pavilion will put his team in a better position to find new recruits. “For athletics, it’s going to bring everybody closer together and…more proud to be a Viking.”
“The basketball gym is going to add a couple more thousand seats, which means there’s a couple more thousand fans,” Tucker added.
Additionally, according to Tucker, the new windows and other improvements to the arena spaces should make sports games more attractive to viewers, even when his team isn’t doing well during a season, the improvements to the court should help draw more fans to the games.
“I think students will really enjoy this building for years and decades to come,” Rountree said.