Oregon to build new basketball faciity at Howe Field

Updated: October 4, 2003, 6:33 PM ET

EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon's new basketball facility will be built at Howe Field on the University of Oregon campus, the university said Saturday.

Howe Field was considered among the more likely of seven sites under consideration.

"The Howe Field site offers significant advantages and will best meet the university's needs for decades to come," university President David Frohnmayer said in announcing the choice.

The new court will replace nearby 76-year-old McArthur Court, which will be retained for other uses.

Other top contenders were a site near Autzen Stadium and the Williams Bakery plant near the campus.

The university released a report in April showing that a new arena that could seat about 16,000 fans and cost upwards of $100 million is financially feasible.

McArthur Court, known as "the Pit," seats just over 9,000. It is home to UO men's and women's basketball, volleyball and wrestling.

It was named for Clifton McArthur, a student athlete and the school's first student body president, and paid for by student funds.

The new facility would be built with donated money and is expected to be complete by fall 2006.

It would require replacing the women's softball field, an intramural field, some tennis courts and the Outdoor Program trip center.

University spokeswoman Pauline Austin said that based on current plans adjacent Hayward Field, where track and field meets are held, would not be affected.

In July, Frohnmayer announced that a small group of donors had pledged funds.

"This arena is only possible through the generous support of Phil and Penny Knight, Pat Kilkenny and others," said Frohnmayer.

Phil Knight, founder and chairman of Nike, has been a major donor toward University of Oregon sports projects including the expansion of Autzen Stadium.

Arena profits, which could be $4 million to $6 million a year, would help athletic programs. The athletic department does not receive revenue from the university.

Frohnmayer acknowledged that all seven sites had shortcomings as well as advantages.

Howe Field is on land the university already owns, would allow McArthur Court to be used for practices and would keep the arena close to students who live on campus.

The university said additional parking facilities, which likely will be spread out, would serve the university and community throughout the year.

The choice was opposed in a straw vote by the South University Neighborhood Association, which urged further study.

"The University of Oregon's new arena will greatly benefit Oregon's economy," said Gov. Ted Kulongoski. "The site selection is an important milestone and I sincerely appreciate the generous philanthropy of the many private donors who have made a commitment to this project and clearly value the benefits the university provides our state."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index