During an interview with the New York Times, Jeff Hawkins, University of Oregon's senior associate athletic director of football administration and operations boastfully declared, “We are the University of Nike. We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits.” And you certainly do need to look far to see his point, especially the just opened Football Performance Center.
Nearly three years after it opened the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena for its basketball program, University of Oregon unveiled the new Football Performance Center before the start of its college football season. Like all other University of Oregon's sports programs, the new facility was a generous gift from Phil Knight, a former alum and co-founder of Nike, along with his wife Penny. Built upon the fundamental belief that an obscene amount of money can buy you a championship, the ambitious project started eight years ago with involvements from ZGF Architects, Firm 151 and Hoffman Construction. With a goal to build the world's most impressive athletic facility, the team flew via private jets to other well known arenas and stadiums, both collegiate and professional, to study the layouts. When it came to the construction phase, members of the University of Oregon Ducks asked for nothing but the best. A few examples:
- Biometric access pads to athletes' locker room
- Furniture upholstered with the same material found on a new Ferrari's interior
- Lined wall panels in real football leather supplied by Nike, of course
- Sony PlayStation consoles for players in custom UofO Ducks' green
- Ballard tables created by the same supplier to Michael Jackson
- O-shaped carpet from Nepal, walnut conference table from Germany, and foosball table from Barcelona
- Reinforced furnishing to accommodate oversize football players
- Cafeteria with farm fresh produces and a neon "“Eat Your Enemies — And Other Food Groups.” sign
- Black on Black bathroom finishes, down to the black toilets…
Spread across three buildings (as well as a namesake "duck pond"), all in polished black facade with interconnecting skybridges, the imposing complex is around 145,000-square-foot in space, along with some 60,000-square-foot for parking. As for its cost, no one is willing to say except that it is a gift from Nike and the Knights.