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OSU’s Reser Stadium renovation boosted by $50m donation

Oregon State University’s (OSU) plans for major redevelopment work at Reser Stadium have been given a significant boost following an anonymous $50m (£36.4m/€41.5m) donation.

The $50m gift to the OSU Foundation equals the largest donation in OSU’s history. The planned renovation of Reser Stadium, which serves as the home of OSU’s American football team, will be worth a total of $153m.

The project, which received approval by the OSU Board of Trustees Finance and Administration Committee last month, will result in the full renovation of the stadium’s west side. The project has now entered the design phase and the plans will be considered for final approval by the board of trustees at its May meeting.

Construction would begin immediately following the 2021 college football season and it is hoped work can be completed in time for the start of the 2023 campaign. OSU will continue to play at the stadium during the construction phase.

Reser Stadium opened in 1953 and had an initial seating capacity of 28,000. After OSU played in the 1965 Rose Bowl, the capacity was raised to 33,000 before a further increase to 40,593 in 1967.

OSU President F. King Alexander said: “This lead gift represents significant momentum in advancing this transformative project for all of Oregon State University. Thanks to the leadership and generosity of many, philanthropy continues to advance Beaver athletics and all of Oregon State University.

“This national best-in-class stadium will serve all of our university’s students, faculty and staff; will provide for an enviable fan experience on game days; and will continue OSU’s significant investments in Beaver football and in athletics programmes for all OSU student-athletes.”

The project will result in the complete demolition and rebuilding of Reser Stadium’s west side, along with the construction of year-round university facilities such as a new state-of-the-art interactive welcome centre for new students, new health centre facilities for students, health care facilities for OSU faculty and staff, and additional meeting spaces.

The Reser Stadium revamp will be funded by philanthropy, premium seating revenue, space lease revenues and other revenues from the stadium, and new facilities. Along with the $50m gift, a separate anonymous gift of $10.5m has been made to the project, meaning that $64.5m of the $85m fundraising goal has now been raised.

The renovated Reser Stadium will offer new premium and general seating options on the west side that will provide the closest proximity to the playing field of any college football stadium in the US, according to Scott Barnes, university vice-president and director of OSU Athletics.

The stadium will also feature a 360-degree stadium concourse, expanded concessions and restroom facilities, enhanced sightlines, accessibility improvements and other fan amenities similar to the east side of the venue, which was renovated prior to the 2005 season.

Barnes said: “I am grateful for our donors’ incredible generosity and enthusiasm for this project. By completing Reser now we ensure the long-term financial sustainability for the OSU Athletics Department and all student-athletes. Increased revenue will provide financial stability throughout OSU Athletics where 70% of the revenues required to operate 17 women and men’s varsity sports are generated from football and Reser Stadium activities.

“We surveyed Beaver Nation to explore and identify the most in-demand facilities, spaces and experiences. This project meets that demand. It will not be an expansion of stadium seating, but rather a right-sizing of desired experiences and amenities to greatly improve the fan experience during games.

“Meanwhile, completing Reser Stadium will enhance the recruitment of student-athletes and students to Oregon State University generally, while supporting and strengthening our opportunity for football success in the Pac-12 Conference and nationally.”

Over the past four years, OSU has received a $50m gift from alumnus Gary Carlson to name the Gary R. Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, and an anonymous $25m gift to support construction of a $70m Arts of Education Complex, which is scheduled to begin in the autumn.

Image: Completing Reser Stadium