Viking Pavilion

The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena

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The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena

Portland State has begun construction of it's new "pavilion" on campus, in case you haven't noticed. But I find it interesting how much the vision for the new arena has changed over the last few years.

This project is a little more than half of what I remembered it was supposed to be.

Webster's has a definition for "pavilion" that is "a large building that is used for sports or public events." As such, I'm not sure the "pavilion" part of "Viking Pavilion" applies these days. I wouldn't call this new structure "large."

At one time, I seem to remember the seating capacity of that building was going to be somewhere near 7,000. But I couldn't find any written evidence of that. But I have found various accounts listing the projected seating capacity of the arena as 5,500, and then "nearly 6,000-seat," and 5,000, then it dropped to "4,700 for sports," then I found 4,800, and now I'm reading mostly 3,000. On top of that, the early renderings of the building always showed what appeared to be a new arena sitting atop the previous Stott Center -- a spanking new top floor for the building.

The drawings I'm seeing now aren't so grandiose. Mike Lund, Portland State associate athletic director media/communications, provided the latest rendering, which is used with this post. And he explained the loss in seating capacity:

"When the project was first introduced the thought was we would be able to get about 5000 seats," he wrote in an email. "As plans evolved and space was actually worked out that was reduced down to 3000-3500. We do have to provide for a lot of academic space, larger sports medicine facility, more offices and some classrooms. I don't really think the seating will be a big issue for us."

And about the different look of the structure:

"As for the structure, the arena will not be on top. The building is being gutted on the east side. When reconstruction begins the final project will be taller than the original building so it is going up."

The Stott Center seating capacity previously was barely more than 1,000 so anything larger is an improvement. But I must say I'm disappointed that PSU is going to so much expense and trouble to build an arena for its Division I basketball program that is apparently going to seat just 3,000. That's too small. And yes, I know the program struggles to draw a thousand people to its games now.

But really, I had hope that the Portland State vision for the future would be something more than 3,000 fans per game.