Pricey U. of Oregon Arena Project Is Tangled Up in Red Tape

The most expensive project in the history of Oregon’s state universities, and the most expensive on-campus arena in the country, is on hold because of a land-use ruling and a permitting process, according to a story in The Oregonian.

The $245-million basketball-arena project at the University of Oregon, which will encompass seven acres, requires a conditional-use permit, which will require a public hearing and several months in processing time.

“No matter what the university decides to do, the potential for appeals throughout the process could delay the arena’s construction for nine months to a year, said Steve Pfeiffer, a land-use lawyer at the Portland firm Perkins Coie,” The Oregonian reports. “The uncertainty also could scare off bond issuers, he said. … [B]onds were to be backstopped, in part, by a $100-million athletic department reserve fund pledged to the university by Nike co-founder Phil Knight. His pledge required the university to secure public financing for the arena project by June 1.”

The permit ruling came about because of an appeal filed by the Fairmount Neighborhood Association.

The university had hoped to break ground this summer and finish the arena by 2010. The Oregonian could not reach university officials for comment. The university can appeal the ruling.

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