- Paul Hilchen
Matthew Knight Arena – Oregon Ducks
Photos by Paul Hilchen, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Matthew Knight Arena 1585 E 13th Ave Eugene, OR 97401
Year Opened: 2011
Ducks Basketball at Matthew Knight Arena
Matthew Knight Arena, named after the son of Nike founder and University of Oregon alumnus Phil Knight, is the home for Oregon basketball and volleyball. In addition to sporting events, non-university-related activities such as concerts, monster truck rallies, and the like are held in the arena.
Opened in 2011, the MKA (as it’s known by many fans) replaced the Ducks longtime home at McArthur Court, where they resided from 1926 – 2011.
McArthur Court was no doubt a classic venue, but one that was ready to be replaced. Matthew Knight Arena provides more restrooms, concessions, TVs in the concourse, and better seating than its predecessor.
There are a handful of Duck alumni playing professional ball in 2015. Representing the U of O in the NBA are Luke Ridnour (Magic) and Aaron Brooks (Bulls). Tajuan Porter currently plays in the NBA D-League. Former Duck players in Europe include Chris Christofferson (Denmark), Bryce Taylor (Germany), E.J. Singler (Estonia), and Malik Hairston (Italy).
The Oregon basketball program is on the rise. In 2008-09 the Ducks had a horrid record of 8-23 (2-16 in conference). Steadily, the program improved. The Ducks made appearances in the NCAA tournament in 2013 and 2014, so the future looks very bright for the team.
Food & Beverage 3
Fans can expect most of the normal fare at concessions at Matthew Knight Arena. Hot dogs ($5), popcorn ($4), souvenir soda ($5), and nachos ($7) are available. Some specialties available are a Pacific Salmon sandwich for $10, a Hawaiian plate for $10, and hand carved turkey or roast beef sandwich on ciabatta for $11 (very good). A practice gym on the outside part of the arena has beer and wine for $7 and $8 respectively, and the consumption of these beverages is confined to that room.
As with other sporting events sponsored by the University of Oregon, the buzz in the stands is very impressive. A big game atmosphere is what you can expect when attending a basketball game at Matthew Knight Arena. The staff has fun at some unsuspecting fans' expense when they activate “Oblivicam.” It’s humorous watching someone on the screen until they realize what’s going on. There are student free throw and 3-point competitions during breaks and halftime as well as musical chairs for kids and the ever-popular “Shell Game” type entertainment on the video board hanging over the floor.
Of course, the signature feature of Matthew Knight Arena is its unique floor design. Meant as a nod to the program’s history, and the team that won the 1939 NCAA Championship, the floor depicts “The Tall Firs.” This is both the nickname of that championship club, but also a tribute to the natural beauty of the state of Oregon.
Matthew Knight Arena is situated on the edge of the University of Oregon campus. A residential section is directly behind the arena with other school buildings and dormitories very close as well. Hayward Field, Oregon’s track & field home is also very close. Hayward Field hosts the annual Prefontaine Classic, an event named after former U of O standout and 1972 Olympic distance runner Steve Prefontaine.
There are many restaurants very close to the arena, including Café Seoul, House of Chen, and Track Town Pizza (a local favorite). If you are coming from out of town, there are quite a few lodging options nearby. Best Western and Holiday Inn are just a sampling of the options available.
The fan base at an Oregon sporting event is like no other school in the Pac-12. One can argue that the fans in Eugene should receive a one-star rating or a five-star rating. This reviewer leans toward the latter. I find Duck fans to be vocally passionate. Matthew Knight Arena gets as loud as any arena I have ever been to. The student section is vocal whenever the visitors have the ball. The crowd is engaged and reacts to the action on the floor. At most sporting events, you can find a few fans that are socializing and not paying attention, but not here. Duck fans love their teams, and it shows at Matthew Knight Arena.
As with any sporting event affiliated with the University of Oregon, parking is a big negative. There is no parking structure or specific lot for fans at Matthew Knight Arena. Parking on the street or in business lots for a fee is the norm. Most lots have parking spots available in the $10 range, which is fairly reasonable. The arena is at the edge of a residential neighborhood, so even street space is limited. If and when you find parking, be prepared to walkways, sometimes for up to 15 minutes.
Once you get there though, Matthew Knight Arena has nice wide aisles, and plenty of room for all fans to navigate. The bathrooms are nice and big to accommodate large crowds.
Return on Investment 5
Regular season single-game tickets are $14-$53 depending on the opponent. The padded stadium seating is very comfortable. There are activities for everyone to enjoy aside from the game itself. If you are not attending a sporting event, the venue has all the necessary features for an enjoyable experience. Attending an event at Matthew Knight Arena is a first-class occurrence and well worth the price of a ticket. A Duck basketball game is akin to attending an NBA game, only on a slightly smaller scale.
On the day of this review, Oregon’s 2014 Pac-12 football championship trophy was on display as well as the Ducks’ Rose Bowl trophy and Marcus Mariotta’s Heisman Trophy. Fans could get their picture taken with these trophies and have a life-long souvenir from their trip to Matthew Knight Arena. As a halftime attraction, the football team was brought out to the center court as an acknowledgment of the team’s achievements this last year.
The Duck Store has anything a Duck fan might want. Items range from hats ($25-$30), t-shirts ($10-$30), sweatshirts, team gear, window stickers, and license plate frames. You name it, they have it.
One extra point for the unique floor design. Some like it, and some hate it, but there is no doubt that it is one-of-a-kind.
A trip to an Oregon basketball game should be on any fan's bucket list. Matthew Knight Arena is modern with fantastic sightlines throughout the facility.