SBD/January 13, 2011/Facilities

Oregon Set To Play First Game At $227M Matthew Knight Arena

Floor of Oregon's new arena features brown-and-tan silhouettes of fir trees

The Univ. of Oregon tonight will debut its "latest marketing gewgaw," the $227M Matthew Knight Arena, when the Ducks' men's basketball team hosts USC, according to Bud Withers of the SEATTLE TIMES. The arena includes "two practice courts; a weight room; a pool with an underwater treadmill; and a 36-foot-wide, three-stories-tall scoreboard." There are no suites, but there are two club areas including the Founders Club, which requires a $500,000 "minimum donation over five years." Seats in the arena, which holds 12,364 fans, "will be steeply pitched -- 36 degrees, sharpest allowed without rails." Ellerbe Becket designers indicated that the "trick was to make something unique but somehow capture the intimacy" that was in McArthur Court. Withers wrote if the 84-year-old McArthur Court "could talk, it probably would be dumbstruck at the amenities" in the new arena. The "most striking" feature may be the court, which features "brown-and-tan silhouettes of fir trees [in] homage both to the Tall Firs -- first NCAA champions in 1939 -- and the school's woodsy locale" (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/12). In Eugene, Ron Bellamy reports the arena "represents a state-of-the-art facility for the Oregon basketball programs, a venue for major concerts and other cultural events in the Eugene community, and a statement-making front door for the University of Oregon." UO Exec Senior Associate AD for Development Jim Bartko said, "Everybody's a little anxious, everybody's a little nervous, everybody's a little scared, everybody's a little excited. It's a big night for a lot of people who have put a lot of effort in this for a long time." Bellamy notes the facility will be the "most expensive arena in the Pac-10 Conference, and arguably the most expensive college arena in the nation" (Eugene REGISTER-GUARD, 1/13).

STORMING THE COURT: Gary Gray, Portable Sales Manager for Michigan-based Connor Sports Flooring, which built the court at Matthew Knight Arena, said, "Hands down, it's the most complex court anyone has ever done" (L.A. TIMES, 1/13). In S.F., Jake Curtis wrote the Matthew Knight Arena floor "might come to rival Boise State's blue turf as the most iconic playing surface in college sports" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/12). ESPN.com's Diamond Leung wrote under the header, "Matthew Knight Arena Floor Walks Fine Line." The halfcourt line is "apparently there, and the design is within NCAA rules, but it might take some time getting used to." Oregon coach Dana Altman said, "Hopefully, it doesn't confuse our players" (ESPN.com, 1/11).

DON'T BE LATE: The REGISTER-GUARD's Bellamy reported tonight's game is scheduled to start around 8:00pm PT, and the school is opening the doors two-and-a-half hours early "to give fans plenty of time to explore the new building, sample the food offerings and find their seats." Every fan "will receive a commemorative ticket and a T-shirt." A "special pregame" show, designed by Nike Creative Dir of Global Brand Presentation Mike Doherty, is scheduled to start at 7:40pm. Following a video presentation, there "will be introductions of the Knight family, and brief remarks" from Nike Chair Phil Knight (Eugene REGISTER-GUARD, 1/11). The ceremony will include a "full marching band and a fireworks-and-lights show." Oregon's Duck mascot is "supposed to make a splashy entry" (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 1/12).

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