Eugene, Oregon, is an ideal place to get your attendees away from it all without leaving it all behind. The small city offers a superb natural setting where visitors can escape the urban hustle and bustle; but there’s no need to rough it in this likable locale bursting with appealing accommodations and other vital venues.
It’s little wonder that planners and attendees are catching on to this compelling college town, home to the University of Oregon and tucked into the green and gorgeous Willamette Valley in the west-central realms of the state.
“People are far more educated about our community than they’ve been in the past when they reach out,” said Juanita Metzler, convention sales manager for Travel Lane County/Eugene, Cascades and Coast. “We really appreciate they’ve done their due diligence.”
There are still a number of Eugene elements that surprise first-time planners and attendees when they visit, according to Metzler. Among these is the city’s status as a high-tech haven, with Eugene dubbed Silicon Shire and home to a robust technology industry. Another secret is Eugene’s accessibility, with a top-tier airport that offers daily flights from San Francisco; Oakland and San Jose, California; and other major Western cities, with Alaska Air as a major carrier.
“These are full jets, not just little commuter planes,” she said. “And we’re not your little garage-door airport. There are wonderful restaurants and shopping, plus it’s only 15 minutes from downtown.”
Metzler said there is massive anticipation and excitement building over the 2020 opening of the billion-dollar Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Research, expected to help morph the region into a spectacular hub of innovation. Metzler said the campus and its world-class facilities should become a major host of events and conferences, particularly within the medical and tech industries.
Convening in Style
Of course, easy access wouldn’t matter to groups without quality meeting venues, and Eugene has that base covered as well.
Any conversation in that regard must begin with mention of the Lane Events Center, which features a 75,000-square-foot exposition space that comprises two large halls — one with a permanent stage — a glass atrium and four dividable meeting rooms. Full catering services, Wi-Fi and 2,500 parking spaces are also on hand to make an event go smoothly. The venue is based at the County Fairgrounds a few blocks from downtown and is even home to an ice center known as the Rink Exchange, where groups can enjoy an ice skating excursion or take in a Eugene Generals hockey match.
A more intimate but equally compelling option awaits at Venue 252, a sleek recent entry into the Eugene meetings menu. It can accommodate up to 770 guests for a seated affair or up to 1,285 for a reception and makes foodie affairs a snap with the acclaimed on-site caterer Market Catering. The urban-industrial events hub provides five distinctive spaces to choose from, including a formidable grand hall that can host up to 800 for a standing reception and includes a spacious balcony that can serve as a VIP area or a spot for some deejay disc spinning.