Oregon unveils its new multimillion dollar football complex
If money can buy championships, then the pressure is on the University of Oregon Ducks, because inside its new Football Performance Center, money is no object.
The facility, formally named the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, was funded by billionaire alum Phil Knight of Nike and his wife, Penny (the center is named for their mothers). Neither Knight nor the university would say how much the six-story behemoth cost, but some estimates peg it at $68 million.
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Within the black glass walls is 145,000 square feet of Italian marble, hand hewn basalt rock, bacteria-resistant surfaces, and walnut so pristine that the school says Knight's construction team rejected 96 percent of it. From the outside, its black glass surface makes it look a bit like a rectangular Death Star ... or Duck Star.
Among the amenities:
- A players lounge with Italian leather furniture, rugs hand-woven in Nepal, custom Playstation consoles bearing duck wings, a pool table from the same company that made one for Michael Jackson, and a custom-made foosball table with Oregon players going up against Pac-12 rivals.
- A coaching staff "War Room" surrounded by black glass walls you can write on, a 32-foot-long German-made table on top of a rug that weighs 500 pounds. It's been nicknamed "Area 51."
- A space-age locker room requiring a biometric thumbprint to enter, codes to open lockers, individual ventilation systems to keep the locker room odor free, and a locker shelf that shifts downward to put the helmet and should pads within arms reach.
- The head coach's office has windows on three sides overlooking three new practice fields, and there's a special hot tub for the coaching staff, with televisions embedded in bathroom mirrors.
- An auditorium with 170 seats covered in Ferrari leather, with each seat tested to bear as much as 500 pounds.
- A 25,000-square-foot weight room with floors made of Brazilian Ipe wood, considered so hard it bends nails.
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The school says it leased the land next to Autzen Stadium to Knight's foundation. The foundation built (and in some cases rebuilt) the facility and has donated it back to the school as a gift. Now the state-owned university is pitching "naming opportunities" for other supporters to cover maintenance costs.
Many have nicknamed the school the University of Nike, but the athletic director embraces the moniker, calling the new center the "economic engine" for the entire athletic program (all student athletes regardless of sport are allowed to use the state of the art cafeteria).
It is over the top, but is it enough to push Oregon finally to win the BCS Championship after being an also-ran for years? The school is dealing with relatively mild NCAA penalties for recruiting violations, and it lost head coach Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles this season.
Still, Oregon is looking ahead. College recruiting is an arms race, and the Duck Star may be a nuclear weapon.
—By CNBC's Jane Wells. Follow her on Twitter @janewells.