Alumni Family Offers $3 Million Gift to Renovate Sparks Center

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- A Willamette University alumni family, who have requested anonymity, announced on Sept. 25 an offer to match donations up to $3 million toward the renovation of the Lestle J. Sparks Center, the university’s primary athletic facility.

“I’m pleased to announce this exceptional gift,” said Willamette University President Steve Thorsett. “Co-curricular programs and users have changed significantly since the Sparks Center was built in 1974. Athletic programs and activities continue to grow, but many students also pursue health and fitness independently. This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance this aspect of our students’ experiences.”

This year, 60 percent of first year students were high school varsity athletes, and most undergraduate students participate in varsity, intramural or club sports or fitness activities and classes.

“This gift will support many important activities for the Willamette community,” said Dave Rigsby, athletic director. “I look forward to sharing more about the project as it progresses.”

When renovations begin will depend on how quickly the university raises matching funds.

The Sparks Center is a multi-use facility that benefits the entire Willamette community.

The Sparks Center is a multi-use facility that benefits the entire Willamette community.