The city of Hermiston is looking at developing 20 acres of lacrosse fields at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.
The proposed sports fields would be created in the undeveloped acres near EOTEC’s main entrance, currently used for overflow parking during the Umatilla County Fair.
According to a news release from the city, “the intention would be to design the grass fields in a way to allow that temporary (parking) use to take place each August and return them to playing condition for the remainder of the year.”
Hermiston Youth Lacrosse approached the city, which took over full ownership of EOTEC this spring, and VenuWorks, the professional management company running EOTEC on behalf of the city, with the proposal.
Under their proposal, the lacrosse organization would contribute about $95,000 in monetary and in-kind donations it has secured to develop the multi-sport fields, with the understanding that lacrosse would take first priority.
As Hermiston has grown, the community has struggled to keep up with demand for sports fields. In 2012, the city invested approximately $180,000 toward developing two soccer fields near Rocky Heights Elementary School.
“The sport of Lacrosse has been growing rapidly in the Hermiston area, but the growth causes field availability shortages when other sports seasons overlap,” the news release states. “Field development with a preference given to Lacrosse will take pressure off of other fields to allow them to be used more frequently for other sports such as Soccer.”
The proposal will come before the city council on Monday night, during its 7 p.m. meeting at city hall, 180 N.E. Second St. The city has appointed an EOTEC advisory board made up of representatives from the city, Umatilla County Fair, Farm-City Pro Rodeo, hospitality industry and community at large, but major decisions such as the lacrosse fields are still brought before the council for a vote.
The committee and VenuWorks are also working on a written long-term plan for EOTEC, which opened its event center in the spring of 2016 and hosted the its first fair last year.
They are providing several outreach opportunities to the public, including an online survey in English and Spanish at www.eotecsurvey.com. Anyone who fills out the survey will be entered to win a $50 Visa gift card or family passes to the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center. The city will also solicit feedback specifically from EOTEC customers, partners and others with an interest in the project.
City manager Byron Smith said the city was pleased to continue EOTEC’s partnership with the fair and rodeo and the goal of the strategic plan would be to support their success while also attracting other uses throughout the year.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there,” he said in a statement. “We want to use this process to get a clear message from the community about what the EOTEC facility should look like 10 years from now, and that will allow us to avoid short-sighted opportunities which may compromise our path toward the community’s ultimate goal.”