The University of Oregon drew much attention recently for images of their new football facility.
Comments ranging from, "It looks like a corporate retreat," to, "Why do the Ducks need this?" sprang up in response to the new buildings.
Eugene locals see it as another push into their city by an outsider.
Is Phil Knight an outsider? This Portland high school student attended UO and graduated. He's not the first to accomplish that feat.
He ran track then attended Stanford for his MBA. Not the only one doing that either.
But then he started NIKE. Phil Knight is the name, but NIKE is the brand. And it's NIKE’s money that draws the complaints.
You probably agree that little, if anything, is perfect. Maybe NIKE has over-stepped, maybe not. Before you decide, take a short test:
WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH NIKE MONEY?
No need to hurry your answer. Mr. Knight didn't pump up UO overnight, but once he started he kept making it better.
UO students need a good library. Nike helped. What library would you improve? Multnomah County Library? It looks like it's on the right track.
Take the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. Donate millions to OHS and open the library seven days a week. And make it free. Take it another step and buy the Portland Art Museum property across the Park Blocks, move them to the big corner building they already own, and turn the art museum into an inter-active history post.
Emphasize sports history for good measure.
Or you could choose a hospital to work with like the Knights did with OHSU.
When you start thinking money and where you'd give, remember the number of zeroes you're working with. These are huge numbers that shock most people. These are lottery winners' numbers. The goal is lending a helping hand with funding, not sending administrators into shock.
Pick a school, a hospital, a cause, and understand that no matter how decent, how good hearted your intentions, you will get ranted on for you choices. Why? Because you actually made a decision, something most people can't do in their every day lives.
What would your faithful columnist do for his Phil Knight Moment? It would have to be something useful, maybe spectacular, with ease of access for one and all.
My shot would be buying the Rose Garden and saving it from the naming rights mistake happening now. Whether buying the building, or just the naming rights, I'd do it to avoid driving by and looking at the Moda Center.
Moda Health was ODS until May, and now the name will linger in the minds of every driver on I-5, everyone on bridges.
On a clear day you can stand on SW Broadway and Jefferson and look north. The Rose Garden used to sit right in the picture. Now it's the Moda Center? I can't look.
My NIKE moment would be keeping the name as the Rose Garden, then skin the building in HD screens that show a continuous loop of Oregon highlights as well as Portland Trail Blazers moments.
My Rose Garden would show the Oregon Alps in Joseph, a jet boat on the Rogue River, aerial views of the Alvord Dessert. It would show Oregon as a great place for NBA players to come and live. My Rose Garden would be a slap in Greg Oden's face for calling Portland an unattractive destination.
Given the Blazers medical history, is a health insurance sponsor a good name to hang on the Rose Garden? Sure, it's called Moda, but once you explain it away as a health insurance company, images of Bill Walton, Mychael Thompson, Sam Bowie, Arvydas Sabonis, and Greg Oden start flashing in our collective memories.
Big men on crutches won't strike fear into opponents anymore than watching them run the court with a limp helps fans. For all the nice work done on the roster this past offseason, The Moda Center brings more problems.
Now NBA fans who enjoy watching Portland suffer can say, "You lost the game because you weren't authorized to win."
Before the games they'll say, "I hope you're pre-qualified to win the game tonight."
And worst of all, "Your coverage will keep you out of the lottery, but unfortunately, out of the playoffs too."
What is your NIKE/Phil Knight Moment?