Mac Court memories, in photographs

Jack Dempsey fought there. Elvis, Dylan and the Dead played there. Obama campaigned there. And countless Ducks got floor burns diving for loose balls on its maple floor, thrilling the rabid fans who packed the place to the rafters.

Venerable McArthur Court, known as Mac Court or The Pit, is counting down its final days as a venue for intercollegiate sports at the University of Oregon.

The Oregon women’s basketball team plays the final game at the old pavilion Saturday versus Washington. The storied arena also plays host to a BCS title game watch party Monday night.

To the right you'll find a gallery of photographs of McArthur Court, part of a larger collection held by Special Collections and University Archives, UO Libraries. (You can find more historic photos here and here.

Built and opened in 1926, the arena was named for Clifton “Pat” McArthur, the first student body president at the University of Oregon and later a U.S. Congressman. The Associated Students of the University of Oregon paid for the building with a $15 fee imposed on students. Students burned the mortgage in 1932 in a public ceremony after the building was paid off.

In the first game played in the arena, on Jan. 14, 1927, the Oregon men’s basketball team beat Willamette 38-10.

Originally designed to seat 6,000, Mac Court underwent numerous repairs and expansions over the years.

It also earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most intimidating venues for visiting teams. Mac Court literally rocked when packed with fans. One poll found it to be least favorite place to play for visiting teams. Sporting News once named it “Best Gym in America” and Sports Illustrated put the arena on its list of the 12 toughest places to play.

But the arena was showing its age in recent years. That led to the development of Matthew Knight Arena, a state of the art, 12,364-seat facility with that will host its first game Jan. 13.

University officials have not determined what will become of McArthur Court. In the short term, it will be used for physical education classes, as well as recreation and club sports.