Oregon unveils state-of-the-art Football Performance Center
Chip Kelly may have moved on to the NFL, but the Oregon football program felt his impact in a big way this week. When Phil Knight, Nike's chairman and co-founder and the Ducks' chief booster, used to ask what more he could do to help Oregon's emerging football program, Kelly and others would focus on the facilities -- and the fact that the Ducks couldn't compete with the traditional powers' infrastructures.
Oregon's 145,000-square-foot Football Performance Center, which opens this week, changes that fact and is intended to help keep the Ducks in national-championship contention for years to come. SI received an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the six-story, on-campus facility, which is situated next to Autzen Stadium and is sure to set a new standard in the arms race to recruit and develop football talent.
The locker room, coaches' offices, student-athlete cafeteria, players' lounge and meeting rooms are designed to flow together and are filled with high-tech gadgetry to enhance efficiency. The design team of ZGF Architects, Firm 151 and Hoffman Construction installed a number of unique features: The marble for the showers was imported from Italy, as was most of the building's furniture; the lockers (which are fully ventilated to eliminate lingering odors) are from Germany and feature coded keypads and a top shelf mounted with shoulder pads and a helmet that spring-boards toward the player; the seamless white floors in the locker room and cafeteria are poured from terrazzo, a composite that resists infection; the specific color pantones of Oregon's uniforms are threaded throughout the building (with green stitching in the chairs used by defensive players and coaches and yellow stitching in the chairs used by the offensive guys); the black-glass walls of the meeting rooms serve as writing boards; several other walls are lined in Nike football leather; the chairs of the auditoriums (yes, there are two) are done in Ferrari leather.
Altogether, the complex promises to be a major draw for recruits. The facade is black glass meant to cloak the building in mystery while also providing bright sunlit spaces within; the designers call it "sunglasses." With this building, Oregon has declared without reservation that it is indeed "the University of Nike.'' Knight and his wife Penny, who declined to reveal the cost behind the project, maintained control of its design and construction in order to meet their standards before deeding ownership to the school. Just last Friday, Knight's right-hand man, Howard Slusher, the former agent, was unhappy with minor scuffs on the black slate floor (imported from Portugal) of the lobby. So, every piece was scheduled to be torn up and replaced.
Oregon's football history doesn't rival Alabama's, but this building embraces the theme of newness. Some teams sell a legacy; Oregon is trying to sell the future.