Saturday, December 13, 2008

"The Matthew Knight Arena"

The University of Oregon today announced the name of Oregon's new basketball arena. It will be "The Matthew Knight Arena" named after Nike founder Phil Knight's deceased son Matthew Knight who died in 2004 in a a scuba diving accident in El Salvador. He was 34.

A perfect choice and one I predicted last night in an instant message converstion with my son.

The University of Oregon Press Release:

New UO arena to be named for Phil and Penny Knight’s son

Today, University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer announced that the new 12,500-seat arena will be named Matthew Knight Arena in honor of the eldest son of Nike Founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny. Matt Knight drowned in 2004 at age 34.

“Phil and Penny Knight have been longtime, generous supporters of the University of Oregon, including their most recent cornerstone gift of $100 million to the Oregon Athletics’ Legacy Fund,” said Frohnmayer. “After discussing naming options with Phil and Penny, choosing Matthew Knight seemed ideal.”

Frohnmayer and Knight made the announcement at a news conference held at the Rose Garden in Portland prior to the start of the Pape¢ Jam, a basketball event featuring the University of Oregon’s men’s and women’s teams.

The University of Oregon began exploring options for a new arena in 2002. “This project is the result of the efforts of many people over the course of many years — architects and athletes; faculty, staff and students; legislators; city leaders and neighbors,” Frohnmayer noted. “We are grateful to everyone for helping to bring about this beautiful facility.”

The official green light for construction of the $200 million arena was granted last month with the university’s receipt of a conditional-use permit.

Frohnmayer also emphasized the positive impact on the local economy of the new arena and the fact that no taxpayer money will be used to fund the facility. “The economic impact of the arena in our community, region and state will be significant and sustained,” says Frohnmayer. Frohnmayer conservatively estimates that more than $300 million will be injected into the local economy from the construction of the facility alone.

“The Matthew Knight Arena, together with our first-rate football stadium, new baseball park and world-class track and field facility, provides a solid foundation to position Oregon Athletics for the future,” said Pat Kilkenny, UO’s athletics director. “It’s been an honor for me to be a part of the team at Oregon and I couldn’t be more pleased with the support and commitment we’ve received from donors, fans and athletics department staff.”

Kilkenny announced that the arena, which will be located at 13th Avenue and Franklin Boulevard in Eugene, is scheduled to be open by the start of the Pacific-10 Conference basketball season in 2011. Shoring and excavation work will begin next week, and a groundbreaking ceremony will be held in mid-January. “This has and will continue to be a community effort, and we want to involve the community in celebrating the project every step of the way,” said Kilkenny.

The new arena will feature several elements of Mac Court that made the venerable building appealing to fans and student-athletes, and intimidating to opponents. “One of the most important criteria for the design of the new arena was to replicate the intensity and intimacy of Mac Court,” said Jim Bartko, UO’s executive senior associate athletic director.

Almost 2,000 seats, including nearly 1,000 in the lower level of the arena, will be allocated to students. This total is more than the approximately 1,600 seats currently reserved for students in Mac Court. In addition, the pitch of the seating—while not quite as vertical as Mac Court—is significantly steeper than virtually any other arena in the country. “Students and fans will still be right on top of the action on the court,” Bartko said.

The arena has two distinct levels, divided into premier, loge and terrace seating categories. Premier and loge seats are in the lower level of the arena, closest to the court; terrace seats are in the upper level. Bartko emphasized that full-court visibility will be good from all seats in the arena, regardless of level or seating category.

Bartko also unveiled the general ticket pricing strategy and timeline for purchasing season tickets at Saturday’s event, attended by basketball coaches Ernie Kent and Bev Smith and players from both teams.

“We heard loud and clear from donors that they wanted basketball at Oregon to be affordable,” Bartko says. Nearly 3,000 seats for men’s basketball games will cost just $15 per game and require no additional contributions. The average ticket price for men’s basketball across all seating levels, excluding the 108 courtside seats, is $28 per game. Most basketball seasons include 18 home games.

A one-time construction fee, a common mechanism used for funding sports arenas at universities around the country, will apply to approximately 7,200 seats in the arena and will range from $250 per seat in the upper level to $2,500 per seat for premium, mid-court seats close to the court. The construction fees are payable over five years. Annual Duck Athletic Fund donations are required for 6,000 seats and range from $100 per seat to $500 per seat, excluding the courtside seats, which require a $2,000 annual donation.

Season ticket prices for women’s basketball and women’s volleyball will remain close to current prices and season-ticket holders for these programs will retain the rights to choose comparable seats in the new arena. UO faculty and staff will continue to receive discounted tickets to all university-organized athletic events held in the arena.

Seat selection will begin in summer 2009 and be based on donor level and priority within the Duck Athletic Fund.

More details about the arena seat plan, ticket pricing and the timeline for selecting and purchasing tickets are available online at, the new Web site devoted exclusively to the arena.

UO arena web site,

UO coaches’ quotes:

Arena background information:

Rendering and site plan:

Ticket pricing graphics: