I hate change.
At this very moment, on the campus of the University of Oregon, somebody is eyeballing McArthur Court and absolutely salivating.
At a glance, you’ll notice that the campus block of 15th-University-18th-Agate has seen massive change in the last five years alone. The new Student Rec Center, the new (X2) Jane Sanders Stadium, and a recently plowed, East Grandstand-sized crater are primary attractions. The vultures have been circling this block for years now. One building has remained untouched.
However, the writing is on the wall, and McArthur Court will surely be torn down soon enough so that UO can build a state of the art walkway. Or a student athlete resource center. Or something of no use to a University, like an academic building.
My point is that I might as well start getting mad now.
The Pit has a thunderous history. Referees having to call timeouts because the pounding on the wooden bleachers would cause the rims to tremble. The 1939 NCAA Champion Tall Firs, upsetting Cheating John Wooden and the #1-ranked UCLA Bruins in 1974, the Two Lukes, etc.. The arena was built in 1926, for crying out loud, my grandpa saw a Peter Paul & Mary concert in the building. A lot has happened within those walls.
Currently, Mac is used for physical education, intramurals, and as temporary office space for other departments on campus that are also suffering from the rapid growth of the University. These poor academic departments are forced to use Mac Court while they have their own buildings replaced by newer, shinier ones.
Granted, not everybody cherishes the deep history of Mac Court, and that’s alright. I especially understand how current students, who have so thoroughly embraced Matthew Knight Arena, might see Mac Court as simply the greatest dedicated dodgeball arena in the nation, and nothing more.
I’m someone who has an intimate connection to the storied history of the University, and is specifically passionate about the physical spaces on campus. U of O may not have much in terms of rich American history like the Harvards of the world, but it did/does have little pieces, like Mac, that’d I’d very much like to hold on to.
I spent all four years of my college career as a Relamp Technician (campus lightbulb changer). I know all about maintaining and replacing old elements of campus in order to improve functionality. I know that you can’t simply let a dead lightbulb stay in a fixture just because it’s old, and it’s cool, and it shone brightly back in its heyday. But American history is not just some old incandescent.
After Historic Hayward Field was torn down this past summer, soon to be replaced by Regular Hayward Field, the administration’s priorities were made clear. The regularization of Historic Hayward Field will occur just in time to finally adequately host landmark events like the 2020 Olympic Trials and the 2021 IAAF World Championships (which will regrettably raise the University of Oregon’s international clout by an estimated ~20%).
If the money is right, the school will be demolished and replaced bit by bit until it’s an indistinguishable Frankenstein’s monster of its former self. That doesn’t sit well with me, but I know that it doesn’t matter what I think.
I’ve heard rumors that developers have pegged the site of McArthur Court as prime real estate for North America’s premiere Cornhole court. With the 2023 National College Cornhole Championships in desperate need of a host city, all eyes fall on Eugene once again.
The powers that be will decide on the future of Mac Court soon enough, and it’s best if we all just get mad about that decision right now. Perhaps, then, it will hurt less when the bulldozers pull up to the 15th-University-18th-Agate block once again.
Look, I hate change as much as the next person, but even I can admit that some Cornhole boards featuring Mac Court-style “The Pit” across the front would be pretty sweet.