Eastern Washington University recently selected ALSC Architects PS, of Spokane, to handle the predesign services for a potential remodel of Roos Field.
Ken Murphy, principal with ALSC, says the predesign services will involve meeting with university stakeholders—including students, faculty, and season ticket holders and university-related committees and foundations—to understand and define their goals for an updated facility.
Lynn Hickey, associate vice president and director of athletics for the university, says, “It’s very much just an investigation of what our needs are, what everyone really prioritizes, and seeing what a logical business plan is that we can put together that we can take forward for fundraising.”
EWU has been tossing around the idea of updating the football field for a few years.
According to a request for qualifications that EWU published in August, a 2012 study gave rise to a proposal to build a new stadium with 9,000 open air seats, indoor luxury suites, bigger locker and meeting rooms, an event center, and a retail space. However, the project was estimated to cost $70 million and considered unfeasible, according to the request for qualifications.
In 2016, another study found that remodeling the existing stadium could be possible if constructed in phases. The study suggested expanding both the press box building and the number of open-air seats to 15,000 and also moving television and press operations to accommodate more viewing suites.
It has a current seating capacity of 8,600, although EWU has brought in additional bleachers when hosting the University of Montana, the University of Idaho, and Montana State University, to bring the capacity over 10,000.
Most EWU home football games have been sold out for the past 15 seasons, the university says.
Because the proposed remodel would benefit primarily the athletics department, state dollars can’t be used to fund the development, Hickey says. If the stadium does undergo renovations, it will likely be in phases, and construction of each phase would depend on how much funding the university can raise altogether.
Hickey says the university is interested in several updates to the stadium, such as expanding the number of seats to between 12,000 and 15,000, and upgrading the concession stand, restrooms, and the sound system.
EWU also is looking into updating infrastructure for the athletes, such as locker rooms, dressing rooms, medical areas, and weight rooms to meet the students’ and coaches’ needs. One piece of the predesign phase is to determine whether those updates are feasible, and if some should instead be incorporated into a different project, she says.
An upgraded stadium would not only help recruit future athletes but also better accommodate fans, she says.
“Every game (this season) has been a sell out,” she says. “We’re just at capacity, so we need additional opportunities to bring more fans in.”
What ultimately would be constructed, however, depends on the amount of funding the university can secure, she says.
Although ALSC is still in the predesign process, Murphy says the firm has already heard some suggestions, including updating facilities for athletes and coaches to help with recruiting and improving the game day experience.
Hickey says EWU hopes to have the predesign services completed by the end of January.
Afterward, the next step will be to develop a business plan and seek permission to have a full design created, she says.
Although ALSC is doing the predesign services, the project architect hasn’t been determined yet, she says.
Murphy says the information ALSC finds during predesign work will be compiled in a report format, and the firm will likely pursue work as the project designer.
Hickey claims that, so far, she’s only heard positive feedback on the idea to renovate the stadium.
“I think the need is huge, and I think everybody in both the campus and in the community are really anxious to see what’s put together,” she says.
The stadium, originally named Woodward Field, was built in 1967.
It was renamed in 2010 in honor of former EWU football standout and all-pro NFL tackle Michael Roos, who was a major donor toward stadium’s unique red turf.
“The red field gives us national attention,” Hickey says. “I think it’s really important to upgrade (the stadium) to help us sustain the program so we can be the best we can be.”
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