Monday, March 29, 2010

A sunny day in Eugene

Saturday in Eugene was one of those rare early spring days when the sun was shining bright, tulips danced in the breeze and all the food tasted great.

The photo here is of the new $200 million Matthew Knight Arena to house the basketball teams next season. It's dubbed "Matt Court," after the oldest Division I arena nearby -- Mac Court. Matthew Knight, Phil Knight's oldest son, died in a 2004 drowning accident at the age of 34.

The new arena is huge with 12,500 seats. Oregon, one day, wants to host an NCAA sub-regional tournament. The blue color at the top of the arena is insulation at this point.

Still, there is no coach for the men's team. After firing their most successful coach ever, Ernie Kent, Oregon, with the deep pockets of Nike, is apparently willing to pay millions for a big-time coach.

It would seem so because they haven't hired one yet, which is surprising. Names that surfaced over the weekend include Minnesota's Tubby Smith and Michigan State's Tom Izzo, who has his team playing in the Final Four again. Izzo claims he hasn't been contacted by Oregon. In Minneapolis, the papers there say that Nike's Phil Knight wants Smith. Who knows?

But whoever it is, he will likely be the highest paid public employee in the state of Oregon.

But back to Eugene, though. We had a delicious dinner at Beppe & Gianni's, fantastic pastries and coffee at Sweet Life Patisserie and a perfect lunch at The Vintage. We batted three for three including a stop for homemade ice cream at Prince Puckler's Gourmet Ice Cream shop.

Eugene, which is a Berkeley-lite in its funkyness, always has amusing bumper stickers. On one Subaru, amid all the anti-war stickers, read this: "Well, at least the war on the environment is going well."

And Eugene is doing well, too.

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