On Sept. 13, senior associate athletic director Lisa Peterson visited the Oregon softball team with an update of their stadium, currently under construction. She said to them, “You will play in this stadium this season. I have no doubt.”
It’s something she’s been waiting to say since she began working for the Oregon athletic department on October 24, 2011, when she was handed a folder of past efforts to be able to make such a statement.
The long-awaited project, Peterson says, “has been planned for years. It was just finally getting somebody who would help us afford it.”
That somebody became Robert Sanders, who’s second donation of $10 million was announced at the Women in Flight launch in June 2014. His total contribution amounts to $16 million.
However, it could be said the process truly began in the 1940s, when Sanders, an Oregon fullback, met his soon-to-be wife, Jane — a cheerleader. After graduation, the couple enjoyed great success in the lumber industry, holding businesses in Oregon, California and Washington.
Jane, who passed away in late 2013, will soon be honored at Jane Sanders Stadium.
“Mr. Sanders has given a lot of money in the past, previously anonymous,” Peterson said. “This was the very first one that he did with his name attached to it.”
Jane Sanders Stadium, or JSS “as we affectionately short-cut it,” Peterson said, is a project she hopes represents the university’s athletic image, like Autzen Stadium, PK Park and every other athletic facility.
“When you see the roof of it, you’ll see that that was brought into it,” Peterson said without going into much detail. “It represents how good they have been and the history of that.”
The players were “intimately involved,” Peterson said, submitting specific requests for the design of JSS. One asked for a disco ball in the locker room, so the team can continue its dancing persona. Another even asked for the stadium to be a dome. With no word on the disco ball, other — more realistic — requests were granted.
The locker room will be circular so the team can see each other. There will be a mud room, so that dirty cleats and bags will be segregated from the lounge and locker room.
Perhaps the most influential addition is the Player Development Area down the third baseline. Inside, the team can continue to practice during bad weather, which only the baseball team had prior.
“It’s going to be a difference maker for us,” head coach Mike White said. “When we started practice (in the past) during the day and it rained, we’d have to pack up move 30 minutes across the river and miss valuable practice time.”
Softball is limited to 20 practice hours per week.
JSS will feature two levels, with a maximum occupancy of 2,500.
The upper, concourse level will have concessions, a multi-purpose room, satellite offices for coaches, a video room and restrooms.
The lower level will combine the officials’ locker room, training room, equipment room, players’ lounge and locker room. The field, concessions, entry way, stands and “everything that is fan related” will be the first to be finished for the home opener in March, Peterson said.
Details inside the building, which the common person won’t be able to see, could be finished in May.
While representing the Oregon image is a focus of the project, an equally important objective of JSS is to honor the Sanders family — specifically, Jane.
Like opening day, Peterson guarantees it.