McCulloch stadium, the figurative home of Bearcat football, baseball and track, is also the literal home of certain athletic department staff. “Upstairs of the stadium, above all the locker rooms, there are conference rooms…and at one end, the very south end, there’s this apartment,” said Rob Passage, director of intercollegiate athletics. In fact, according to Passage, there are four private apartments, which surround a communal kitchen, living space, and bathroom.
Unlike the late Trailblazers owner Paul Allen’s glamorous and mysterious Moda Center apartment, the McCulloch Stadium units are born of necessity, not excess. The athletics department uses the apartments as transitional housing for seasonal and recently transplanted staff. “It’s not great, actually,” Passage admits. “That’s why it’s probably transitional. It’s not like people are like, ‘Hey I want to live here for a while.’” He explains further: “It is something that allows them a place to live during the season while they’re coaching, and/or live while they are trying to figure out Salem, and find, y’know, longer-term housing.” Similar housing options exist in Willamette’s broader academic sector, said Associate Athletics Director Leslie Shelvin. The Kaneko complex includes housing options for similar purposes.
The McCulloch apartments were added during the 1992 renovation of McCulloch. According to then writer Christ Garrettz in a 1992 issue of The Collegian, as part of the renovation,“A new second floor has been constructed; It will house meeting, offices, and apartments.” As of Oct. 2022, the apartments house two assistant coaches from the baseball and football programs. The residents are expected to carry out small tasks related to the upkeep of the stadium, including making sure lights are turned off, and all the gates are locked or unlocked.
Socially minded students might give the side eye to work housing programs. In many instances throughout history, company housing and stores have been instruments for worker abuse. However, unlike in the company towns of old, McCulloch stadium residents aren’t paid in scrip, and according to Passage, they aren't directly paying rent either. Stadium residents are taxed as if their housing is a form of income, but are not billed by the university. Still, considering ongoing rent increases in Salem, the relationship between the university and its working residents could stand to become more tenuous if demand for cheaper housing solutions increases among staff. For now, the stadium housing program makes sense for many members of the athletic staff. At the very least, their commute seems hard to beat.