March 10, 2021, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Through a $1.6 million investment of state bonds and sports lottery funding allocated for athletics initiatives, Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) will soon be breaking ground on renovating its track and field facility. This strategic renovation is budgeted at $2.5 million, and with the help of Olympic gold medalists in track and field, Dan O’Brien and Ashton Eaton, the University is launching the Bringing Home the Gold campaign to raise the remaining $900,000.
The present stadium and track have been in existence for more than 40 years and have been utilized by thousands of people—commencement ceremonies alone account for nearly 10,000 visitors. Once a vibrant community resource, the field previously hosted community events like high school championships, fundraisers, concerts, and more. The facility currently serves as the training site for more than 55 stellar athletes, however, with years of deterioration, a track meet has not been held at Oregon Tech since 2013.
“The track and field project will once again establish Klamath Falls as a destination point for university competitions and help grow the track and field program while creating a distinctive facility that can benefit the entire community,” said Oregon Tech president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan. “The renovations will improve the image and capacity of the facility while making it one of the best environments for fans and participants at any event. I hope the opening of the renovated track will also be a celebratory event for our entire community coming out of the pandemic.”
A new track will once again enable Oregon Tech to host track meets, which creates a better student-athlete experience, while it builds community pride and enhances local economic development through increased visitors to the region. Additionally, a new track strengthens student-athlete recruitment and retention efforts, providing Oregon Tech’s distinctive career-ready education—and the value that it brings—to even more talented students.
The $900,000 Bringing Home the Gold campaign to renovate the track and field is launching with a matching gift opportunity. The first $100,000 in donations will be matched 100% (up to $100,000 in total.)
Helping the university with the campaign are Southern Oregon-raised athletes and Olympic gold medalists in track and field, Dan O’Brien of Klamath Falls and Ashton Eaton of La Pine.
“My Olympic dreams began in junior high at Henley,” shared O’Brien. “The coaches and experiences I had encouraged me to believe that I could be one of the world’s greatest athletes. I remember coming to the Oregon Tech track when I was younger and thinking that it was one step closer to the big stage. I’m so excited to see this evolution happening in my hometown.”
Eaton also believes that the facilities young athletes train at can impact their future goals. “Investing in academic and athletic facilities makes students feel like they are a valuable part of a university,” said Eaton. “It shows that the university is invested in them having an atmosphere that is productive to their education and endeavors, and I look forward to the growth this will bring to Oregon Tech.”
The first phase of design is in progress and the project is expected to be completed for the start of Oregon Tech’s first track meet in early spring 2022. The renovations and expansions include the resurfacing of the track, relocation of some field events, and renovation of the existing grandstand that will seat more than 700 people along with a press box, concession stand, and storage and timing room. Renovations of existing restrooms and the purchasing of new track and field equipment will complete the project, creating a competition-level facility for both the Oregon Tech community and the broader region.
“We’re excited about having a high-quality facility for our student-athletes and all of our students, community members, and fans,” said Athletics Director, John Van Dyke. “This is a great way to extend ourselves into the Klamath Falls community, and further the reputation of our sports teams and facilities.”
President Naganathan added, “The levels of philanthropy given to Oregon Tech in recent years exhibit the generosity of our dedicated supporters, which we continue to be grateful for. We are honored to have Olympic gold medal athletes Dan O’Brien and Ashton Eaton as part of this project. Their engagement allows us to showcase all the good work being done on campus and within the community.”
For more information or to give online go to www.oit.edu/Gold.