ASHLAND — The new home of Southern Oregon University athletics has a new name.
In a gathering Thursday morning outside the construction zone, SOU President Linda Schott announced Lithia Motors Pavilion as the name of the new facility, which is on schedule to be completed in January.
Schott and Director of Athletics Matt Sayre — in front of a crowd that included student-athletes, coaches and the local DeBoer family — acknowledged the role of philanthropy in the project. In particular, they recognized the DeBoers and their signature company, Lithia Motors.
Lithia and the DeBoer family have pledged $1 million to the pavilion project and another $1 million to fund scholarships for student-athletes. Several other donors have pledged an additional $600,000 in gifts for the ongoing construction project, which includes renovations to the Raider grandstand.
Three generations of the DeBoer family have been among the most generous supporters of SOU. Lithia Motors — which was founded in 1946 by Walt DeBoer and incorporated in 1968 by his son, Sid — is one of Oregon's two current Fortune 500 companies.
The pavilion received $22 million in bond funding from the state, but the need to demolish rather than salvage some portions of the previous athletic facility added $2 million to the project cost. The adjacent Student Recreation Center is separately funded by fees that SOU students levied upon themselves.
The pavilion's competition gym will seat more than 1,400 fans for men's and women's basketball, wrestling and volleyball contests.
The building will also have locker rooms, three classrooms, academic offices, an academic conference room, SOU's athletic offices, an athletic conference room, a ticket booth, an athletic training and sports medicine room, wrestling practice room, equipment room and storage areas.
The Student Recreation Center will include a recreational gym, indoor running track, fitness center, climbing wall, multipurpose rooms, an outdoor programs area, staff offices, locker rooms and storage areas.