Oregon's New Basketball Arena on Track

Eugene -- University of Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny remains optimistic that the Ducks will break ground on the new arena at the end of summer in August or September, and begin playing in the facility by the first game of the 2010 Men's basketball season.

Kilkenny met with the media today to discuss the significant positive steps toward the beginning of construction of the new arena.

"My great hope is that we're going to do it by the summer, but we still have a lot of work to do," Kilkenny said.

The University of Oregon still has a number of issues that need to be addressed before they can begin construction, however these lingering questions seem miniscule in comparison to some of the hurdles that stood in the way just months ago. Before the athletic department breaks ground the Ducks need Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski's signature on the plan, receive higher board of education approval, sell bonds, and go through a city process that includes talking to surrounding neighbors plus deciding on a parking plan. Kilkenny said that the governor's cooperation would not be a significant hurdler, as he has been "lead to believe that the governor will sign it."

Although the name of the court, and the arena itself, remain largely undiscussed by the athletic department, it seems that a candidate has emerged.

When asked whether Nike Founder Phil Knight would be a possibility for naming rights, Kilkenny responded knowingly:

"Yes, I think Penny (Knight) might be part of that, too."

Knight is being considered the leading candidate to have the arena or court named after him due to his $100 million contribution that was used to create the Oregon Athletics Legacy Fund, a fund that helped to solidify plans to build the arena.

Questions and concerns about annual revenue projections have plagued the arena project for the past few months, however Kilkenny feels that the new arena would only enhance the self-sustaining quality of the current athletic department.

"The (projected annual revenue reports) that I have the most comfort with probably were the conservative numbers that the athletic department put together," Kilkenny said. "I think they matched up fairly well with the ones CSL (Conventional Sports and Leisure International) put together. I think those are very achievable. Honestly, I'd be disappointed if that's what the outcome was, but by taking that information and laying it over the top of our overall athletic department I think we're in very fine financial shape."

He also stated: "If you look at [current revenue] for a comparable perspective the leap can be quantum. We will have significant inventory to sell that we don't have presently: both seating and advertising…"

Kilkenny did say that he believed that ticket prices would remain "similar" to what they are now, but he was unable to project the future of student tickets, namely whether or not they would remain free.

Head Men's Basketball Coach Ernie Kent, who stood in the back of the room while listening to Kilkenny's address, was visibly excited about the recent progress of the arena project.

"Now, we have the facilities to match (our recruiting competitors)," Kent said. "This gives us, in my opinion, the best basketball, football, track facilities in the country across the board when you really look at what we have here at the University of Oregon."

Kilkenny also addressed questions surrounding a recent deal with IMG College, a leading collegiate licensing, marketing and media company, and the Oregon Sports Network (OSN).

"Having never gone down that path before, it's highly speculative in terms of having what the world of education would characterize as a contract. My understanding is that what we signed with them is binding on both parts; and our general council might kick my behind for making that comment, but it's my strong belief that we not only have a meeting of minds, but also a meeting of terms."

The University of Oregon and IMG, in partnership with OSN, agreed to terms on a 10-year, $67.14 multi-media marketing right agreement two weeks ago. IMG multi-media rights division's clients include Michigan, Tennessee, Texas and Nebraska, among others.

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