The Big Picture
Regional Sports Center in Springfield, Ore.
By Kelli Anderson
The obvious word that hits you is "big" when you think about the soon-to-be-completed 120,000-square-foot Regional Sports Center in Springfield, Ore. But "big" doesn't just refer to the fact that it will be largest amateur sports facility in the Northwest. From initial conception to out-of-the-box programming, big thinking permeates everything they are and do.
The current 79,000-square-foot facility, comprised of a main gym and a south gym, reflects only two phases of a three-phase project, which is the brainchild of owner Roy Gray, the largest developer in Springfield and a veteran PE teacher of 30 years.
"The big-picture concept started in the late '80s," said Doug Knighton, executive director of the facility. "Roy wanted a fitness facility to bring in regional events to give our kids a chance to interact with people from surrounding states." With the ability to simultaneously host multiple sports tournaments like volleyball, hockey and lacrosse, attracting teams from Oregon and its neighboring states, that vision has become a reality.
The most notable feature of the third-phase completion will be its six wooden basketball courts. "It's the quality of the courts," explained Galen B. Ohmart, architect on the project with Solarc Architecture and Engineering of Eugene, Ore. "To invest in a court like this is unheard of. This is top-end quality—there are no soft spots or breakthroughs. The Trail Blazers have already indicated they want to train here for the quality of the facility."
Not only is their strategy bringing in sports teams far and wide, Gray has succeeded in bringing the community to their front door by building housing developments all around the property. Similarly, by leasing out offices and programming space to the county park and recreation department, even more community business is being generated.
"It all works together," Knighton said. "The park district can reach people because they're so big. We share information between us to benefit everyone as much as possible. They rent from us, and we get information and publicity and shared advertising from them." This kind of symbiotic relationship has been good for the community and good for business.
However, a smart business opportunity that Knighton said is often overlooked by other sports facilities are the benefits to be had from reaching out to the disabled community. "It's amazing that people won't invest to make them comfortable," he said. "A group we host put their request in at other facilities who thought it wouldn't make money, so they wouldn't look at it. It's not always about the money—it's about helping them live better lives."