February 2, 2016 / 4:12 PM / a year ago

Costs could slow Eugene 2021 stadium renovation

3 Min Read

(Reuters) - Construction costs may push the renovation of the stadium in Eugene, Oregon that is to host the 2021 world championships beyond a projected 2017 completion date, organizers say.

A decision will be made in the coming months on a timetable for the $50-60 million privately funded Hayward Field project, TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna and Paul Weinhold, president and CEO of the University of Oregon Foundation, told Reuters.

"The feedback we are getting right now is because of some major projects around the state, and certainly on campus, there is a real tight supply of available sub-contractors. It is not true inflation but they are very busy so they charge more," Weinhold said in a telephone interview.

"So we would have to evaluate what it would cost to do the project a year later."

Controversy surrounds the Eugene championships, which were awarded without any competition. Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), cut his ties with Nike after claims he faced a conflict of interest due to the sportswear giant's connection to Eugene.

Organizers had hoped to start modernization and expansion of Hayward Field from 10,000 to 30,000 seats in August. Work would substantially be completed prior to the state high school meet in May 2017, then resume in August 2017 with completion in October 2017.

"If anything were to change, that timeline would just move a year," Weinhold said. "Instead of starting in August 2016, it would start in August 2017." Lananna said, "We still have plenty of time to get the facility ready."

He said he still expected some portion of the renovation would start in 2016.

Economics will be the deciding factor, Weinhold said. "We are dealing with donor dollars here, so we are going to do it in the most efficient way possible with the most cost effective way as well," he said.

The University of Oregon Foundation is managing the project, which will bring the athletics world championships to the United States for the first time.

Oregon-based Nike has promised $13.5 million for the project, half of it contingent on matching funds being raised. Weinhold said he was confident all funding goals would be met.

Early discussion about seeking $15 million in state capital construction bonds was not a serious consideration, he said.

"The idea surfaced frankly out of Salem (the state capital) that Salem and our legislature might be able to provide some support for Hayward," Weinhold said.

"Just as the idea came from Salem, the idea that it wasn't going to work came from Salem, so we took cues from the political powers that this was not going to fly."

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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