$5 Million Stadium Gift Largest in School History

September 19, 2019 By David Meany
Panoramic view of proposed football stadium renovation

Jack Gillingham challenges others to help advance the $25 million project

Eastern Washington University’s vision to transform Roos Field, iconic home to Eagles Football, into a stadium facility that matches the strength, passion and pride of Eagle Nation is a big step closer to reality.

Just two weeks after unveiling renovation plans, EWU is excited to announce a $5 million gift from a prominent local business owner—the largest individual private gift ever made to Eastern.

EWU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey revealed on Sept. 19 that Jack Gillingham, a Cheney resident who owns several businesses on the West Plains and in Spokane, made the gift to inspire others to also “Advance the Standard” of Eastern Athletics. The $5 million gift will be structured around an initial payment to expedite the replacement of the Roos Field’s red turf, with the remainder disbursed over the next four years.

“I wanted to step up because I believe in the vision and the team Lynn Hickey has put together to move the Eastern athletic department further into greatness,” said Gillingham. “This gift is a statement to and for the community to get behind this project, which can be a catalyst for the local economy. It’s a rallying cry for current and future supporters to get involved to make this a reality.”

“Jack and I discussed EWU’s need for a champion to get this renovation kick-started,” said Hickey. “He didn’t hesitate to get on board, and he is very gracious and generous to make this commitment. The entire university will benefit from this—not just our department, the football program and our fans—as it will open doors for other philanthropists to support academics, scholarships and programs.”

Sr. Associate Athletic Director Devon Thomas said Eastern has been accepting gifts and pledges since the announcement of the stadium renovation. The 52-year-old stadium will be completely renovated with all new seats including new premium seating offerings. Those who make gifts and pledges now will be contacted regarding options of how their contributions may be utilized toward future seating options.

Thomas said stadium naming rights are still available, and that the school is working with Gillingham to thoughtfully recognize his generous contribution, which includes an on-field check presentation at the next home football game Saturday, Sept. 28.

“I’m overjoyed to contribute to this visionary project,” added Gillingham, who owns American Onsite Services, Barr-Tech and Northwest Industrial Services. “This project is real and EWU Athletics and the rest of the university will get it done.”

More on EWU Football Stadium Renovation Project . . .

The Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously approved a $25 million private fundraising strategy to renovate the existing football stadium after long-awaited pre-design plans were unveiled Friday, Sept. 6, on the EWU campus.

A BOT-appointed task force recommended the renovation plan after studying all fundraising and facility enhancement opportunities, since state dollars cannot be used. Part of the review involved working with ALSC Architects of Spokane to create stadium renderings that would reflect a realistic project the university could pursue.

Renovating the stadium will be a game-changer for Eastern as it will create a dynamic venue with all new seats, premium seating options and an expansion of the east side stands.

“We like to talk about Eagle grit, and it’s certainly taken a lot of grit and hard work to get to this point,” says Lynn Hickey, director of athletics at EWU. “Eagle Nation deserves a space that matches the strength, passion and hard-work of a program and is a point of pride throughout the region and beyond. This is a reasonable plan that will give us that space.”

Hickey notes the stadium’s overall seating capacity won’t increase much under the plan, but fans will enjoy better seats and improved sight lines, with more seatback chairs, covered club level seating and private loge box seating. Additional amenities include more concessions and new restrooms located on both sides of the stadium, reflecting feedback from surveys and focus groups. The track will also be removed to create a more intimate environment.

“This stadium renovation plan will elevate the whole campus year-round,” says EWU President Mary Cullinan. “It will help Eastern recruit more high-caliber student-athletes and make that game day experience even more memorable.”

Construction will begin once the funds are raised, however the immediate need is to replace the red turf before the beginning of the 2020 football season.

For more information including a media kit with renderings and frequently asked questions, visit ewu.edu/stadium.