Huskies trying to look past their slump, and their envy
The Huskies get their first peek at the Ducks' new arena.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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EUGENE, Ore. — Sitting proudly on the corner of Franklin Boulevard and Villard Street, Matthew Knight Arena takes your breath away.
Oregon's new basketball arena, with its video scoreboard that's bigger than any other in the NCAA and its funky Nike-designed court that takes some getting used to, is a stunning visual display of state-of-the-art wizardry.
For the hefty price of $227 million, the Ducks built a 12,364-seat palace that features a hydrotherapy pool, two exclusive lounges, four private suites, 15 concession stands, 18 restrooms and 229 high-definition televisions spread throughout the facility.
"It's very nice," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They did a good job with the place."
Reeling after suffering two consecutive upsets, the Huskies (15-6, 7-3 Pac-10) are just the third visiting men's basketball team to play in Matt Arena.
The Ducks (11-11, 4-6) stunned Washington State with a surprisingly easy 69-43 victory Thursday, and they're enjoying success in their new digs.
"It's got a great atmosphere," said Oregon coach Dana Altman, who has a 2-1 record in Matt Arena.
"The energy that it's produced in the three games we had, I think has been really good." he said.
What's good for Oregon could spell trouble for the rest of the Pac-10, especially in the area of luring high-school recruits.
Jabari Brown, a five-star recruit out of Oakland, Calif., cited the Ducks' new arena as one of the reasons he chose to sign with Oregon over UW.
Standing on the sideline at Matt Arena on Friday afternoon, Romar said the Huskies can't "sit back while everyone else is getting better."
He talked at length about Washington exploring plans to build a multimillion dollar practice facility.
"We are seriously looking at a new facility. Not where we play, but a new practice facility that will house our offices and the weight room and everything," he said. "It will be a nice improvement."
Since Washington finished a $40 million Edmundson Pavilion makeover in 2000, six conference schools have either made improvements to their arenas, built a practice facility or plan to build a new athletic structure.
• Stanford completed a $30 million renovation to Maples Pavilion in 2004.
• USC constructed the $147 million Galen Center in 2006.
• Arizona opened the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium, a $14 million practice facility east of McKale Center that holds two full-length basketball courts and five volleyball courts, in 2008.
• In 2009, Arizona State opened the $19.5 million Weatherup Center, which includes two full-size practice courts, coaches' offices, film rooms, training area and classrooms.
• Oregon State plans to break ground this summer on a $15 million practice facility.
• UCLA's Pauley Pavilion will close next season while undergoing a $110 million renovation.
Washington is considering sites near Edmundson Pavilion as well as a plan to add an attachment to the arena. Romar was unsure how much the facility would cost, but estimated it would be higher than OSU's project.
He said the Huskies men's and women's basketball teams need a place of their own because often there's scheduling conflicts with the volleyball squad for the three courts at Edmundson Pavilion when outside events are scheduled in the building.
Romar also said a new practice facility would help with recruiting.
"Your general facility would look like you are very serious about basketball," he said. "In a nutshell, what that looks like is you have a place to practice at all times. You have a place for your players in season and out of season.
"On a collegiate level, it's a place where you go to study. You have computers. It's a place that's like a second home. A place like that nowadays is something that really helps your program, but it also helps with recruiting."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org