PORTLAND - A Eugene dentist has helped the University of Oregon clear the way for a new $200 million basketball arena by agreeing to sell his office just east of campus.
UO President Dave Frohnmayer announced the deal to the state Board of Higher Education on Friday.
Dr. Karl Wagenknecht will also receive a university-owned parcel about a block away from his office. The paved, undeveloped lot was acquired as part of the university's purchase of a former auto dealership.
UO general counsel Melinda Grier said the university wanted to make the $2.05 million deal for the dental office without resorting to condemnation. "We think it's a fair price, and it gets the property for the university without doing something we didn't want to do," she said.
Wagenknecht must vacate the property by Sept. 30, she said. The property is one of three the university needs to complete ownership of the entire site needed for the new arena.
Grier said negotiations for a parcel that houses a 7-Eleven store are continuing. The third parcel, a vacant storefront, will be acquired through condemnation because it has so many liens against it, she said.
Wagenknecht and his wife, UO finance instructor Jeanne Wagenknecht, had previously told the state board they were not interested in selling. Their attorney asked the board not to approve condemnation authority, but the board did so anyway.
The UO plans to start building the 12,500-seat arena later this year and hopes to have it open by late 2010.
Construction can't begin until the Legislature approves the sale of $200 million in state-backed bonds to finance the project. Frohnmayer said he expects to present the arena financing plan to a legislative committee Jan. 17 or 18 and to have the bonds included in an omnibus bill that will go to the full Legislature during their February session.
The financing plan calls for the construction cost to be covered by state bonds that will be paid back over 40 years. Although the university expects the arena to pay for itself, it can draw on the newly formed Athletics Legacy Fund to cover any operating deficits. The fund is being created with a $100 million gift from Nike co-founder Phil Knight.