University of Oregon = You Owe

Nike Basketball Arena

Funded by Sweatshops

a waste of resources that is not "sustainable" even if a few patrons arrive on a bus

University of Oregon needs new management focused more on academics than Sports, Incorporated.

The University could provide free tuition to the students for the cost of the arena.

No class room

The UO has added thousands of students without adding the space to put them in

Published: August 12, 2012 12:00AM, Midnight, Aug. 12 (2012)

Meanwhile, construction of major non-classroom facilities has been breathtaking.

The most visible projects, in recent years, have been new sports and sports-related facilities funded largely or wholly by donors: Matt Knight Arena, $227 million; Ford Alumni Center, $33.5 million; and Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes, $41.7 million. This year, construction of the $68 million Duck football operations center next to Autzen Stadium is under way.


Why the Arena is not "green"

A giant new sports arena consuming many megawatt hours of electricity (lights, heating, cooling, sound system) built with an enormous amount of concrete, steel, glass, plastic and other materials cannot be "sustainable" nor "carbon neutral." This is merely hype, disinformation to distract a public increasingly concerned about pollution wrecking the atmosphere. Sustainability would require abandonment of excessive greed and overconsumption, and radical honesty about the real impact our addictive behaviors are causing.

Reduce Consumption: keeping what you already have instead of building a fancier replacement uses less energy, mineral ores for steel, concrete, and other resources.

Bus Rapid Transit cannot serve the arena: It is an urban myth spread by the University that the new, fancy bus would make the Arena suddenly a "green" facility because some of the patrons might use the new BRT route. But BRT has roughly four thousand passengers a day, so three days worth of BRT service would be required to serve the twelve thousand seat arena! Furthermore, many arena attendees would come from outside Eugene - Springfield (just as many football patrons do not come from the metro area) and they would not be using BRT.

Public subsidies: Perhaps the most corrupt aspect of the arena is the demand that the public be ultimately responsible for the financial success of the facility. While the U of O is planning to go into debt to built this edifice complex, ultimately, the taxpayers could be held responsible if rosy fiscal projections turn out to be overinflated. The University administration admits that basketball alone will not pay for this place, so a variety of other events will be required. Considering the unfurling global economic crisis (much worse than a mere "recession") and the escalating cost of construction materials, any projections should be treated extremely skeptically.

If the University wants to replace seismically dangerous campus buildings, there are many academic buildings that could be on a short list for repairs or replacement.

One reason we aren't going to "solve" global warming is the biggest polluters have zero interest in giving anything up to reduce overconsumption.

Spending over two hundred million dollars on a new palace to watch people throw a ball around shows dysfunctional priorities.

The University (January 2008) paid Horizon Airlines to paint one of its jets in the U of O "Ducks" colors. Too bad this promotional budget can't be used for the ostensible purpose of the university (academics?).



Efforts to block the boondoggle:

Pricey U. of Oregon Arena Project Is Tangled Up in Red Tape

The most expensive project in the history of Oregon’s state universities, and the most expensive on-campus arena in the country, is on hold because of a land-use ruling and a permitting process, according to a story in The Oregonian.

The $245-million basketball-arena project at the University of Oregon, which will encompass seven acres, requires a conditional-use permit, which will require a public hearing and several months in processing time.

“No matter what the university decides to do, the potential for appeals throughout the process could delay the arena’s construction for nine months to a year, said Steve Pfeiffer, a land-use lawyer at the Portland firm Perkins Coie,” The Oregonian reports. “The uncertainty also could scare off bond issuers, he said. … [B]onds were to be backstopped, in part, by a $100-million athletic department reserve fund pledged to the university by Nike co-founder Phil Knight. His pledge required the university to secure public financing for the arena project by June 1.”

The permit ruling came about because of an appeal filed by the Fairmount Neighborhood Association.

The university had hoped to break ground this summer and finish the arena by 2010. The Oregonian could not reach university officials for comment. The university can appeal the ruling.

Scott Carlson | Thursday June 5, 2008

Lost: Law school professors
As the law school handles the changing structure of legal education, administrators work to replace at least three faculty members
By: Allie Grasgreen | News Reporter
Issue date: 1/25/08

The School of Law, along with law schools across the country, is facing changes on multiple fronts. Not only is it dealing with the shifting nature of legal education, but at least three law faculty members will make the move to another institution after this year.

Robert Tsai is one: He's leaving Eugene next year for American University in Washington, D.C.. He declined to go into details, but the associate professor did say his new salary is "significantly better." The tenure track at the University of Oregon is more complex and longer than almost all comparable universities, Tsai said, which contributes to faculty recruitment and retention issues.

More letters in the editor’s mailbag
Published: February 2, 2008

Money no object for UO athletics

Although Zach Vishanoff’s Jan. 21 letter has some good points, I believe there is an even better solution.

First and foremost, get rid of all students who are not athletes — they are simply a burden on the system. Then, shut down and sell all surplus classrooms and dormitories, especially those needing repairs. Save just enough of these buildings as would be needed for the revenue-generating athletes.

Also, trim the number of professors to the minimum amount for maintaining a proper grade point average; after all, we want the athletes to be considered valid students.

Selling all the unneeded buildings and saving on the peripherals (professor’s salaries, office support, etc.) should help us focus enough monies toward building the nation’s best baseball and track and field facilities to complement the new $200 million basketball court, not to mention maintaining our state-of-the-art Autzen Stadium.

Remember, when it comes to the athletic program, money is no object. I’m quite sure the majority of our taxpayers will back this up 100 percent.

John Fields


Eugene Weekly

Nike's CEO became a billionaire on the backs of millions of third–world sweatshop workers. Then he gave the UO $100 million for a basketball arena. At the current wage of about 40 cents an hour at Nike factories in Asia, that $100 million represents about 250 million hours of sweatshop labor. That's one year of work for about 130,000 poor people to build the UO another sports palace to play in.


shameless propaganda greenwashing this arena:

Go Big Green?
by Camilla Mortensen

Plans are under way again for the construction of a basketball arena to replace McArthur Court, also known as "The Pit." But will the new arena be a "green" arena?

A recent Sports Illustrated cover story highlighted the effects of global warming on sports and discussed what sports teams are doing to become carbon neutral and conserve energy. Among its many examples was Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Gillette features a water system that collects and recirculates wastewater from rinsing and flushing.

New UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny is specifically charged with "reviving the new basketball arena project" according to a statement by UO President Dave Frohnmayer.

The UO may be required to build its new basketball arena to a high standard of sustainability. Oregon Senate Bill 576, now under consideration, proposes requiring state facility projects to be designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standard. If this bill passes, the new arena would appear to fall under its effects.

More than 130 architects showed up in Salem to advocate for the sustainable buildings bill. Brook Muller, an architecture professor at the UO, said he was excited at the recent "incredible demonstration of the commitment of architects in Oregon to solving issues of global warming, sustainability and carbon neutrality."

Several sports teams including the Minnesota Twins, the University of Minnesota Gophers and the Washington, D.C.. Nationals have announced intentions to build their new sports stadiums to LEED standards, and all are in a race to be the first to do it, according to press sources.

LEED standards follow a system of points with 26 points allowing a building to be LEED certified. For the silver standard, buildings need 33 points, 39 for gold and 52 for platinum. Buildings achieve points in areas such as sustainable sites, water efficiency and innovation and design process. The new arena could earn at least one point for its proximity to public transportation: The proposed Franklin Boulevard site is right off the new EmX bus route.

While higher costs may be a concern if high sustainability becomes mandatory for state buildings, Muller said in his own experience "green does not necessarily mean you are going to spend more," and "if problems are considered early, we could save money in upfront costs and in the long term." This could be achieved, he said, "through designing a building with natural ventilation, thus saving money by downsizing the need for mechanical ventilation."

The current UO arena budget was estimated at well above $200 million in a recent Register-Guard article. Most of the money will come from private gifts.

UO Associate Athletic Director Steve McBride did not return EW calls about plans for a "green" arena. However, the current UO Sustainable Development Plan calls for new construction to achieve "the equivalence of at least the base level of LEED certification," and says, "Generally, new construction must meet the point equivalent of a LEED Silver rating."

Projects do not have to comply if there is "a compelling reason why this is not possible."

According to Muller, if sustainability is planned into the arena project from the beginning, "problems can be solved gracefully."

The UO chose TVA Architects in Portland as the architectural firm for the new arena, which TVA refers to on its website as "a world-class 'theater for basketball.'" TVA is also the firm that designed the Nike Air Hangar (housing Nike's fleet of corporate jets), the Nike World Campus and the Nike Campus North Expansion, in addition to many other Nike projects. Locally, TVA designed the Hayward Field Renovation and the new Williams Bakery. The TVA website reports that the UO assisted in paying for design and construction of the bakery. However, as a private building, it was apparently not required to meet the UO's sustainable building standards.

A TVA representative said he "really couldn't say" anything about plans for a green, sustainable or carbon-neutral basketball arena. The plans for the arena, he said, are "conceptual." Though discussion of sustainable design and user input is called for in the UO Sustainable Development plan, the representative said, "It is not something I am able to discuss." He refused to provide his name.

But it's still possible that the UO's planned world-class arena will be a green, sustainable and carbon neutral version of The Pit in which so many exciting games have been played. Story.cls?cid=14595&sid=1&fid=1

UO seeks state bonds to back arena proposal

By Greg Bolt The Register-Guard

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The University of Oregon’s new $227 million basketball arena would be financed entirely through state-backed debt under a plan the UO is presenting to a higher education board this week.

Some critics worry that the plan is financially risky, but UO administrators defend it as safe and practical.

UO officials on Friday will seek the first of three approvals they need, when they ask the state Board of Higher Education for permission to request legislative approval of $200 million in bonds to build the approximately 12,500-seat arena. The Legislature previously approved $27 million in bonds to buy land for the project.

The board meeting begins at 10 a.m. at Oregon State University’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora. If the board approves the plan, the UO will go to the Legislature in February to seek authorization for the bonds.

If the Legislature goes along, the UO’s final step would be to go back to the higher education board for approval to sell the bonds.

The financing plan already has aroused concerns among some faculty members and others on campus who worry it is too risky and commits the university to an unhealthy level of debt. A University Senate subcommittee is reviewing the proposal but isn’t ready to comment.

The debt financing plan is a departure from the original version of the arena plan, which called for the entire cost to be covered by private donations. The UO scuttled that plan in 2004 when cost estimates rose so high that the university would have needed what UO President Dave Frohnmayer then considered an unacceptable level of bonded debt to supplement donor money.

But the financing picture changed dramatically in August, when Phil and Penny Knight announced they would make an unprecedented $100 million gift to the athletic department. The money will not go directly for an arena, but instead will be invested to act as a kind of financial backstop that allows the department to take on debt or make other moves that otherwise would be out of reach.

Frohnmayer has pledged to boost the new fund, known as the Athletic Legacy Fund, to $150 million within five years through additional fundraising.

Under the plan to be presented Friday, the university would pay off the bonds over 40 years, primarily using revenue generated by basketball games along with about 30 concerts and other events that would be held each year in the arena. But university officials acknowledged that it’s possible the arena would not generate enough income on its own to cover annual debt and operating costs.

If that were to happen — a consulting firm hired by the university is still working to produce more accurate revenue forecasts — the athletic department would fall back on interest earnings from the Athletic Legacy Fund to make up the annual deficit. In a UO-developed scenario in which arena revenue was anemic, the department would draw $3 million to $5 million a year for the first 10 years from the Legacy Fund to help cover costs.

If worse came to worst, the UO could tap into the Legacy Fund principal to make bond payments.

Allan Price, the UO’s vice president for advancement, said the Legacy Fund will provide enough of a cushion that the athletic department not only will be assured of covering arena costs but also of operating in the black over the long term. The UO is one of about 20 Division IA athletic programs that is self-supporting and takes no money from the university’s general fund.

Price said arena revenue comes up short of costs only in the most pessimistic early projections. Price said he believes that the 380,000-square-foot facility will generate more than enough money to cover costs. For proof, he points to the expansion of Autzen Stadium, which has produced 35 percent more revenue annually than was projected.

“The question is, can the athletic department afford to finance this (arena) project?” Price said. “And the answer is, clearly the athletic department can afford to finance this project.”

Price also argues that earnings from the Athletic Legacy Fund should be considered part and parcel of the arena project. Phil Knight is the billionaire co-founder of Nike, a UO alumnus and the school’s largest donor, and under the terms of his gift to the Legacy Fund, the donation cannot be used for arena construction. But Price said the Legacy Fund and the arena are “inextricably linked.”

Price said the Legacy Fund money will be invested alongside the UO’s main endowment fund, which has earned an average of 10.2 percent annually over the last 10 years. The university expects to pay a much lower interest rate for the state bonds, which have sold at an average of 4.85 percent annual interest over the same period. So, the argument goes, it makes sense for the UO to borrow the entire construction cost at a low interest rate and invest the donations from Knight and others at a high one.

The UO anticipates earnings on the Legacy Fund of $9 million to $15 million a year. Debt costs on the arena construction and land bonds would be about $13 million a year.

The UO officials also say the project will not overburden the university with debt. Projections that include all foreseeable construction projects in the coming 15 years indicate the UO will stay at or below the 7 percent debt-to-expenditures ratio limit set by Oregon University System rules.

The ratio would hit the 7 percent limit in 2016 and drop to 5.5 percent by 2020, the UO projections show. The figures include debt from the first phase of a long-term student housing redevelopment plan.

“Our intention is to only build what we can afford,” Price said.

UO business professor John Chalmers, chairman of the Senate panel reviewing the arena plan, said he hopes to have a report by late December or early January. That’s when the UO expects to take the proposal before the Legislature’s Interim Joint Ways and Means Committee for an initial recommendation prior to seeking final legislative approval in the February special session.

Chalmers said the UO Senate subcommittee has been assured its comments will be taken into account in the final arena plan.

“I don’t think anything that’s happening this week sets anything in stone,” he said.

But the university is moving quickly. It wants to break ground this spring and have the arena complete in time for the 2010 basketball season.

The UO wants to contract with National Championship Properties, a nonprofit subsidiary of the UO Foundation, to build the arena. The contract would require that the arena be built for no more than $200 million, the UO said.

NCP would hire JMI Sports to manage the project. JMI Sports handled the construction of PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres.


Register-Guard letters
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Arena financing involves subsidy

Some readers may not have noticed that the proposed financing of the proposed basketball arena has funding coming from state of Oregon bonds partially backed by interest payments from the Knight gift.

At the recent meeting of the state Board of Higher Education, a question was asked as to whether the Knight funds could be used to pay principal or just interest on the bonds. The university president said that the terms were yet to be worked out.

Two points are relevant here. First, bonds are a much more costly form of finance because they involve interest payments over time, as well as the construction cost of the arena. Are the Knight funds only “on loan” in the sense that they cannot be used to build the arena but only to pay interest on state of Oregon bonds?

Second, to the extent that state bonds are used to finance the arena, there is a public subsidy going to the program because state bonds used for this purpose cannot be used for other state or university programs. The reason is because these bonds “use up” some state borrowing capacity.

If the university is in the dire financial predicament its officials claim, why are they asking the state to divert borrowing capacity to the financially independent athletic department? There is little or no evidence that athletic programs benefit academic programs. Why the subsidy?

Robert Olsen



Register Guard - letter to the editor - November 11, 2007

Why not cover Autzen Stadium?

Instead of destroying Mac Court, condemning property, borrowing $200 million to build a new basketball court and 12,500-seat concert venue, why not put a cover on Autzen Stadium?

It might cost less, we could actually play basketball there, it has existing parking lots, and for a concert it could hold more than 60,000. World-class music could be offered to our Northwest region at a better price.

Not only would the University of Oregon and the state make more money, but local hotels and restaurants would increase their profits.

Ron Davis

Cottage Grove