'Mac Court can't be moved out of us'

'Mac Court can't be moved out of us' »Play Video
Photo of Mac Court by Sebastian Foltz

EUGENE, Ore. - How do you say goodbye to an old friend, especially if that friend has been in the family for 84 years?

"That was a teammate of mine," said former University of Oregon basketball player and coach Bev Smith. "They can have us move out of Mac Court, but Mac Court can't be moved out of us."

New Year's Day marks the end of an era in Oregon sports history. 

It's the last scheduled Pac-10 game at McArthur Court, Mac Court, The Pit - before the University of Oregon Ducks make the move to the new Matthew Knight Arena.

Smith's career as a player spanned 1978-1982.

She tried to describe the feeling of stepping out on the floor of Mac Court for the first time.

"It was pretty strong because it was the second or third year that women had been allowed to play at Mac Court," she said.

Students voted in 1925 to build a new arena, and they paid for it through fees and a bond issue. 

The Webfoots used to play games at the old Eugene Armory, but as local author Joe Blakely said. "By 1926 the capacity was too small.  They needed a bigger facility."

So Blakely said the school build Mac Court for the princely sum of $200,000.

It was named in honor of former UO student and "Father of UO Athletics" Clifton Naismith McArthur. 

At first it was called the igloo because of its grey exterior and dome-like roof.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The Active 20-30 Club of Eugene has worked the security detail for 42 years in return for a fee from the university, raising thousands of dollars for charity. 

That arrangement ends after the last game Jan. 1. "We're hopeful that this actually creates another
opportunity to team up with the U of O and move forward," said Jesse Howes, club president.

For Bev Smith, this goodbye is a sad one - but she hopes the pulse and the spirit of "The Pit" will live on.

"Because it's the people that have really made Mac Court and will continue to make Matthew Knight arena," she said.

A consultant's report said Mac Court could be used to house part of the UO School of Architecture, if the university wants to go that direction.

No decisions have been made on the future use, re-use or demolition of the building.

What are your memories of Mac Court?