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SOU home eyes face lift

ASHLAND — Plans have been drawn up and time goals set. Now, all that stands between Southern Oregon University and a major renovation to Raider Stadium is the Oregon State Legislature.

SOU athletics director Matt Sayre said Thursday that the school has hired Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture and Planning to complete a planned "$1.6 million to $1.7 million" renovation to the home of the SOU football and track and field teams and is now awaiting a decision by the OSL regarding deferred maintenance to McNeal Pavilion. If the state legislature approves funding the latter, McNeal will be upgraded simultaneously, with a new heating and air conditioning system, seismic retrofitting and ramps to make the ground floor ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

The university is awaiting the decision in the hope that both projects can be completed at the same time.

"It just has to do with how much money we have to do the project right," Sayre said. "We get one shot at this and we want to make it as good as we possibly can."

Once the decision regarding SOU's deferred maintenance comes through, the school will begin accepting bids for the new field, which will be synthetic and will replace the grass field at 4,000-seat stadium that was constructed in 1983. It will be wide enough to host soccer games.

Sayre hopes the bidding process begins in early March.

Southern Oregon's football and women's soccer programs won't be the only sports programs to benefit from the upgrade. The renovation will also include a new eight-lane track as well as revamped field-event pits and lanes — the first renovation to the SOU track facility since 1990.

Sayre said Raider Stadium, which hasn't hosted a track event in three years due to its poor condition, will also be able to host events for SOU's club lacrosse and rugby programs, as well as a variety of local youth events, such as Pop Warner football games and youth soccer tournaments.

"(SOU coaches) are anxious to get it going," Sayre said. "They've seen the designs and have had an opportunity to weigh in. They're just excited to get it going, and a little nervous about whether or not it'll be finished before the season starts."

The Southern Oregon football team is slated to open its 2014 home schedule Sept. 6 against perennial NAIA national championship contender Carroll College.

"We'll obviously jump right in," Sayre said.

Besides the new field and track, renovations at SOU will include an upgrade of the underground utilities and landscaping improvements.

"It's a big deal, facility-wise, and quite a feather in the cap of folks around here," Sayre said. "And if McNeal gets its renovations, it would be great. We have a wonderful new residence hall right behind us and a (building and field) that's in lousy shape. So the whole potential project between the two could be fantastic."