Unique LED Installation Drives Pre-Game Excitement at Matthew Knight Arena
Opened in January 2011, Matthew Knight Arena is a 12,364-seat venue in Eugene, Oregon, and home to the University of Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team and women’s basketball and volleyball teams. Matthew Knight Arena was built to replace legendary McArthur Court, which opened in January 1927. Known as “The Pit,” McArthur Court’s layout packed fans as close to the action as possible, with vertically orientated bleachers placing spectators over the court. It was known as one of the most hostile arenas in collegiate basketball.
According to the University of Oregon, Matthew Knight Arena was designed to recreate the unique passion and experience of McArthur Court. Seating in the new venue incorporates the same closeness to athletes on the floor, making fans feel like they are an integral part of the game. In the same spirit for upholding the past, design elements were added to the new arena to celebrate Oregon’s legacy.
Displays in the arena’s concourse are dedicated to the passion and heritage of the Ducks and a unique court design pays tribute to the Tall Firs—the Oregon men’s basketball team that won the first ever National Championship in 1939.
But at Matthew Knight Arena old traditions are not only revered, they are also still practiced. One ritual that carries over from the days of McArthur Court is the pre-game huddle. Before coming out to the court, men’s and women’s teams join members from the Pit Crew (fans from the student section) to form a circle and chant. At Matthew Knight Arena, the huddle is performed at the ‘O-Hub’, a space outside the locker rooms where three hallways meet and are designed to reflect the distinct curvature of Oregon’s “O” logo.
Digital activation of the O-Hub fosters pre-game hype
With the goal to generate more excitement prior to games or matches, the University of Oregon Foundation, represented by project management firm Inici Group, engaged digital design and branding agency Downstream on a project to digitally activate the O-Hub area. Downstream proposed and subsequently integrated Planar® CarbonLight™ CLI Flex™ pliable LED video wall displays that were custom designed into two curved LED installations, transforming a static opening between hallways into a visually immersive space.
The upper ring is a continuous, 360-degree Planar CarbonLight CLI Flex LED video wall with a 2.6mm pixel pitch (CLI2.6) that matches the O-Hub’s circular design. The lower ring is comprised of Planar CarbonLight CLI Flex LED video walls with a 1.9mm pixel pitch (CLI1.9) that are installed on the curved wall surfaces between the upper ring and the floor.
“The project has quickly made a major impact to the pre-game environment in the arena,” said Trent Hays, Downstream director of engineering. “Through cameras mounted in the O-Hub, the huddle can be broadcast out to the center-hung display. Camera feeds from the arena can also be relayed back to the O-Hub, allowing players to see the crowd around them on the LED displays. It provides a powerful branding element.” Inici Group Senior Project Manager Dean Christensen said the new O-Hub creates a sense of hype throughout the arena. “It’s a very impressive way to take the court,” he said. “Many college basketball programs are near the same caliber as professional teams in the way their pregames are produced.”
A recruiting tool
In the off-season, the digitally enhanced O-Hub offers the basketball and volleyball programs another tool to help recruit talent. The installation can be operated in different modes and Downstream installed a content management system that allows the university to make updates as needed.
In ‘roster’ mode, recruits can see team players featured on the LED displays. “A coach can cycle through the roster and open up player profiles, highlighting each member,” Christensen said. “Another mode, called ‘Beyond Oregon’, focuses on players from the past, including what they went on to achieve after leaving the collegiate level.”
Flexible LED modules provide tailored solution
The Planar CarbonLight CLI Flex pliable LED video wall—which can bend into tight concave or convex curves—offered an adaptable solution for the rounded walls of the O-Hub. “It was a unique project and early on, Downstream identified the Planar product as the right fit,” said Karl Schulz, principal of Inici Group. “The installation could be achieved without any structural modifications.”
“It’s a truly flexible product,” Hays said. “We were able to conform to the contours of the O-Hub walls—the modularity of the Planar CarbonLight CLI Flex allowed us to match the arc of the “O” logo without using faceted flat tiles. And, based on how the modules are designed, the custom framing system could be completely installed and wired prior to module installation.”