EUGENE, OR– Just when it seemed Oregon’s athletic facilities couldn’t get any better, the University of Oregon took things up yet another notch.
Yesterday, media was allowed into the Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center, an incredible addition to UO’s already amazing sports complex, for the first time. The University, a la Oregon fan’s favorite adopted aunt and uncle, Phil and Penny Knight, spared no expense with the estimated 19 million dollar project. If you were blown away but the Hatfield Dowlin Complex, this performance center will knock your (and future recruits) socks off.
Seriously though, given the name, it had to be spectacular.
Here are 5 fun facts to know about Oregon’s newest addition:
1. Attention is in the Detail
Tiny flying duck cutouts covering the ceiling, creating an elaborate image of a helmet-clad Mariota say it all. The detail in this place is incredible. From the moment you walk in, it is evident that Mariota and his life have inspired the entire project. Each room is inspired by “Aiga”, the Hawaiian word for Family. From screens flashing pictures of Mariota and his family at his Heisman Ceremony to murals of “Sandy Beach,” Mariota’s favorite Hawaiian beach, Mariota and his Hawaiian culture are honored.
2. Comedic touches all around
No modern-day Oregon athletic facility would be complete without a few creative rivalry touches. There are signs letting Beavers know they aren’t welcome, punching bags decorated with Mexican Masks representing each of the other Pac- 12 schools and elaborate wood carvings of the Duck overpowering rival mascots.
3. State of the art technology throughout
As elaborate as all of the details are, the center was clearly created to develop, evaluate and physically support student athletes. It’s hard to imagine any other facility in the country currently matching the technology this place offers to do that. If it’s any indicator, Mariota himself is said to be in town, using the facility to rehab his injured knee this off-season.
There are censors, cameras, etc. throughout many of the rooms, to track data of an individual athlete and everything is created with improvement in mind. Even the “boxing ring” is half the size of a regular ring to promote speed and agility.
Perhaps one of the most impressive rooms is the 3-D simulation room, where players put on 3-D goggles and are immediately put into a virtual game-time experience where they can tell coaches what the see and be evaluated and corrected.
Don’t worry! If athletes get tired, they can just retreat to their “Sleeping Pods” and tune out the world.
4. There’s equipment, and then there’s E-QUIP-MENT
As one might imagine, the Oregon Athletic Department has massive amounts of equipment to store at any given time. Much of this facility has been dedicated to better manage it all. As the tour guide explained, the equipment, much of which used to be housed outside in trailers, is now housed in space saving containers and shelves, developed by Tualitin, OR -based company, Spacesaver Specialists, INC.
The shelving, if lined up end to end would actually stretch 2.5 miles. Say What?
That equipment, in case you were wondering, is scanned in and out, just like in retail, to players. The University uses the original Nike bar codes (of course) to keep track of inventory and provide an accountability system.
Another fun fact? With all the uniform changes, players started complaining about not being able to break in their cleats before game time. To solve that problem, they now have two steaming machines that soften and break-in the cleats within minutes. And yes, one travels with them.
One more fun fact? Have you ever wondered how much laundry there is to do after just one football game? The answer is 500 lbs.
Let that sink in.
With new fancy industrial sized washers and dryers, the equipment staff can now do that laundry in one hour instead of the four plus hours it used to take. #winning
5. Recruits have and will fall in love.
Clearly, one of the other major functions of the center is to impress visiting recruits. There are specific areas dedicated to them, showing them the plethora of Oregon gear they could wear. Previously, there hadn’t been a way to display it all in one place. Now, they will surely feel like a kid in a green and yellow (and grey, black and white) candy store. In the center of one of the displays is a giant screen where recruits can stand in front of and be virtually shown their favorite uniform combinations.
Fun Fact: Rules bar the university from gifting recruits footwear. They are however allowed to give them gear for “inclement weather.”
Overall impression: This is an incredible facility for one incredible Oregon legend. Marcus Mariota often talked about wanting to help train future athletes after his football career. I imagine he never thought his legacy would already be doing that. He must feel truly honored and the University and its fans yet again owe Uncle Phil and Aunt Penny a huge thank you!