About 100 miles south of Nike's sprawling campus in Beaverton, Oregon, a place that more closely resembles a miniature metropolis than a corporate headquarters, lies the city of Eugene. Pressed up against Mount Pisgah, surrounded by greenery and boasting air so crisp, your lungs feel rinsed with each breath, Eugene has picturesque views, but they are not even the most jaw-dropping thing about the city. That superlative has to be reserved for the University of Oregon's football facility, a palace so pristine you feel unworthy when you step through the entrance.
Two years ago, Oregon poured $68 million into a complete renovation of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, a 145,000-square-foot athletic temple that rests just behind Autzen Stadium, where the Ducks play their home games on Saturdays. It's over the top, to be sure. Some of the amenities—like the barbershop in the locker room, imported Italian rugs and video game consoles in the player's lounge—you might not find in the nicest NFL facilities, but they are a huge part of how Oregon recruits athletes. Nike was kind enough to take us on an official tour, and I tried to imagine myself as an 18-year-old football player on a recruiting trip. I would have enshrined the moment as soon as I walked into the lobby.
No school pushes its brand harder when it comes to sports than the University of Oregon. The "O" logo is everywhere and on everything, as is its mascot, the Oregon duck. Even the parking spots beneath the football complex are marked with numbers across the duck's chest. For some, the constant messaging could be nauseating, but once you see the facility in person, it's hard not to be dumbfounded by its sheer magnitude. Here are some of the most fascinating parts of the football mecca.
Marcus Mariota's Heisman Trophy Shrine
Not only did Marcus Mariota lead the Ducks to the national championship game last season, but his efforts at quarterback earned him the first Heisman Trophy in Oregon history. The school has celebrated it in a huge way. Take a quick right after entering the lobby and you see an eight-tiered shrine to Mariota, each tier representing a person or group whom Mariota thanked in his acceptance speech. Surrounding the trophy are the eight islands of Hawaii, where Mariota hails from, all carved from marble. Like most things inside Oregon's football facility, this display does it big.
The Brazillian Ipe Wood in Oregon's Weight Room
Oregon's weight room is incredible in itself. Equipment is kept to a minimum as players focus on the essential lifts that help make them so explosive on the football field. The most impressive feature is the wood floor. It is made from Brazilian ipe, which is one of the hardest and densest woods in the world, three times harder than cedar, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's virtually impossible to dent or burn it, and if it is maintained right, it will remain in excellent condition for half a century. It's also very expensive. That's some legit wood.
The Locker Room. Oh, the Locker Room
Oregon's locker room resembles the inside of the spaceship they flew around in in Prometheus. When all the lockers are closed, it looks like a long hallway draped in white. An image of an Oregon player, dressed in a white uniform and helmet and standing with his back to you, adorns each locker.
Open one up, and you'll find a place to rest your shoulder pads and helmet. They sit on a moveable platform that slides out toward you as you get dressed. If you need to charge your phone, there's a cell phone charger in there too. We told you about the barber shop, but that's worth mentioning again. The room smells completely clean, a minor miracle considering that Oregon still has a bowl game to play and the lockers are yet to be cleaned out.
The Player's Lounge and Its Luxurious Rugs
You see that rug? The one with the Oregon Duck on it in front of the big-screen television? Yeah, that was imported from Italy, because why wouldn't it be? When you're an Oregon athlete and you step into the player's lounge, you need luxury under your feet to keep your lower extremities feeling fresh. No local furniture store stuff. You also need big TV screens, PS4s and Xbox Ones, and all the games you could ever imagine.
Throw in a custom pool table complete with the Oregon duck logo and some fooseball tables, and you've got the type of lounge that people will never, ever want to leave.
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