Lane County officials have given employees the green light to shorten the contracting process for a potential multipurpose facility at the Lane Events Center.
The county commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved an exception to the normal public procurement process to instead use a design-build methodology for the proposed facility, which would serve as the new home for the Eugene Emeralds at the county’s events center.
The staff decided on the design-build process after discussions with district leadership, consultants and the minor-league team, said Shawn Waite, the district’s facilities and capital planning manager
“Given the unique nature of the facility, given that Lane County has not built a facility of a similar nature, we believe an advanced design-build will be the most efficient and cost-effective means of construction,” Waite said.
She added that the process allows potential design confusions to be addressed early and allows the county to consider expertise and cost, rather than just going with the lowest cost, as in the normal procurement process.
Hillsboro uses a similar process to expand and remodel stadium for the Hops, a team in the same league as the Emeralds, she said.
Both teams must meet new MLB facility standards after promotion to the league’s High-A division.
While Hillsboro is being rebuilt, the Ems are in the process of finding a new stadium because the new standard and a longer season mean the team that Eugene has called home for decades can no longer play at the University of Oregon’s PK Park.
MLB requires the Ems to find a new home by 2025, but the university would prefer the team to figure things out by 2024, general manager Allan Benavides told county officials last month.
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As Lane County staff and consultants work with the team to investigate whether a “new Civic Stadium” is feasible for the Lane Events Center, the design-build process will likely mean reduced project time, according to a staff memo.
The staff did not identify any significant drawbacks to using the approach while the county moves forward in reviewing the proposal.
Community members were divided about the project, expressing both delight that the facility could transform the event center and fairgrounds and concerns about placing it in the middle of a neighborhood.
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Commissioner Jay Bozievich, an engineer, said the design-build methodology allows the county to act on community feedback during the design process.
“Design-Build offers this unique opportunity to work back and forth with the people actually building the facility and the designers to get the best of what you can and build features that the community wants,” said he.
In addition to serving as a new home for the Ems, the facility would host community events, serve as a venue for outdoor concerts, and host baseball tournaments at multiple levels of play.
Now that officials have approved a deviation from the normal procurement process, employees will submit an application for qualification and then invite contractors with the desired expertise to submit proposals, Waite said.
Staff will then not come back until mid-September at the earliest to let officials choose a contractor, she said.
Contact City Government Watchdog Megan Banta at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.