EXPECTATIONS EXCEEDED WITH BIG CROWDS, EXCITING GAMES HAS FANS OF PK80 TOURNAMENT WONDERING ABOUT A REPEAT
Its intention was to celebrate the 80th birthday and lasting impact of Nike co-founder Phil Knight on collegiate basketball. By the time 16 of the country’s top teams had battled through 24 exciting games and crowned two bracket champions, it was clear that PK80 Presented by State Farm had delivered beyond all expectations. Even tournament namesake honoree Knight spoke in glowing terms, “Its been phenomenal. I’ve had a ball going back and forth between two arenas, and they’ve been great games. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.”
The four-day, first-of-its-kind event was the center of the college basketball universe, keeping the Rose Quarter’s Moda Centerand Veterans Memorial Coliseum buzzing with large crowds and competitive matchups. Thanks to broadcasts on ESPN, ESPN2and ESPNU, national television audiences were treated to a Thanksgiving Weekend feast of nonstop action.” After No. 1 Dukeraised the championship trophy in the “Motion” Bracket, and No. 4 Michigan State cruised to the title in the “Victory” Bracket, there was just one burning question left from fans, media, teams and sponsors – can this event happen again in Portland?
“PK80 was a huge event and the Rose Quarter and the City of Portland proved that we are a great host for large scale national events,” said Chris McGowan, President and CEO of the Portland Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter. “Though the final data will take time to compile, PK80 had a very positive impact on our local economy in terms of hotel rooms, restaurants, shopping, transportation and tourism. There is no question that more of these types of events will happen again in the future.”
“This tournament not only achieved its goal of honoring Mr. Knight, it delivered every bit of the excitement you’d expect from the caliber of teams that participated,” said Chris Oxley, Senior Vice President of Venue Operations for the Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter, and the executive in charge of PK80. “Operating two venues and brackets simultaneously, and coordinating tens of thousands of tickets, posed a complex logistical challenge. But thanks to some hard work by our Rose Quarter team with our partners at ESPN, we executed our plan smoothly and successfully.”
It was billed as the most powerful collection of college basketball teams ever assembled at a single site. That fact was difficult to argue as Duke and Michigan State were joined in Portland by Florida and North Carolina, along with programs Connecticut, Gonzaga, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Butler, Texas, Ohio State,Stanford and DePaul. Even local fans had representation in Oregon, Portland State and Portland. In all, 10 of the last 14 national collegiate champions were on display, with more than 50 high-touted players competing and three coaching legends adding to the storylines.
With the “Motion” Bracket championship on the line, Duke rode the 30 points and 15 rebounds of bracket MVP Marvin Bagley III to an 87-84 come-from-behind victory over the Florida Gators. Michigan State took full advantage of North Carolina’s poor shooting to capture the “Victory” Bracket 63-45, with guard Cassius Winston earning MVP honors.
“Even in the most creative places that Nike has, they could not think of how good this tournament has been. And it’s been a privilege for us to be here and be in Portland, and (we were) treated unbelievably well,” said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. “This tournament was really good for the game. It came at an appropriate time. Because you had two tournaments at one place, with all these teams. I mean, you had four Top-10 teams playing tonight. It’s terrific.”
“We loved being involved in this tournament. We loved being involved in honoring a guy who has done so much for so many different schools and their athletic programs,” said North Carolina Coach Roy Williams. “It was a thrill to be involved with the many great teams we had out here.”
“This is what college basketball needs. This is what college basketball is all about,” added Gonzaga Coach Mark Few.
Final attendance for the three days was 118,659 over the 24 games and 12 sessions. On the social media front, PK80 generated more than 300 million impressions and reached 82.2 million people around the globe.
Women’s basketball had a PK80 connection at the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena where the host Ducks defeated Oklahoma 92-74 last Saturday. Earlier that day, No. 1 Connecticut started the doubleheader action by whipping Michigan State 96-62.
PK80 also had a charitable impact donating $50,000 of its proceeds to Adaptive Sports Northwest, which provides adaptive sports, recreation opportunities, and connections to critical resources for youth and adults experiencing physical disabilities in Oregon and Southwest Washington.