Matthew Knight Arena falls short of revenue projections

EUGENE, Ore. - The new Matthew Knight Arena opened with high hopes in December 2010.

"We opened up to a sold out crowd against USC," said Craig Pintens, Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Oregon.

But officials with the University of Oregon said income from men's basketball games at the new arena have fallen short this year.

The University of Oregon projected a revenue of $3.3 million dollars for basketball ticket sales.

However, within the last year the UO has only brought in $2.9 million in ticket sales.

The slump in revenue leaves $400,000 short of budget.

"For us to be down a little bit in ticket sales, it's definitely hurting the team a little bit," Pintens said. "We're obviously going to rely very heavily on continuing to generate the majority of our revenue in football."

Pintens said big concerts and events have continued to bring people in to a few sold out shows.

The concerts and events that drew huge crowds included Elton John, Cirque du Soleil, the Harlem Globetrotters and Brad Paisley.

Businesses near Matt Knight Arena are booming during concert and game times.

"Concerts are absolutely amazing for us," said Barron Braatz, a business owner near the arena.

Braatz owns hotels and a restaurant on MLK Boulevard.

The business owner said events are filling up the hotels and the Boulevard Grill restaurant.

"Our restaurant you couldn't fill it up anymore and we were turning people away," Braatz said. "I think it's a huge economic driver for the whole city."

Not everyone is optimistic the arena can come back from behind, however.

"I think people should be extremely skeptical of the numbers that come out of the University of Oregon athletic department," said Bill Harbaugh, a member of the UO Intercollegiate Athletic Committee.

Harbaugh helps advise the school on athletic department policy, including the budget.

The committee member said the school was overly optimistic with the projections to begin with.

"They have a real incentive to over exaggerate how much revenue they'll get from a new project," said Harbaugh.

While the men's basketball team is not filling up Matt Knight Arena, the number of people attending games now would not have fit in Mac Court.