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CAN OREGON SPORTS LEARN FROM ARIZONA

It’s About More Than Sun Screen.

mesa1

Oregon sports fans share one thing in common. We look for ways to relate sports to life. We like to make it personal no matter where we are.

But where do you find Oregon sports in Mesa, Arizona? I was lost until I pulled into the Chicago Cubs spring training facility. That’s where Oregon State Beaver Darwin Barney’s picture hangs in the Cactus League’s biggest stadium.

This is Southridge High School’s Darwin Barney, the one who played on Oregon State’s back-to-back NCAA Baseball Championships, the Darwin Barney who plays pick-up basketball on the Murray Road 24 Hour Fitness courts during the off-season.

The sports world came back into focus with Barney present.

barney

Mesa felt like home because it fights some of the same battles as Portland. This desert town was about to lose the Cubs to Florida. Instead, they re-invested $84 million to keep a team that brings in $130 million during Spring Training each year.

The math looks simple, but the vision is hard to grasp. How did Mesa keep baseball?

The direct connection to Major League Baseball makes a difference. If Portland had had a better big league connection, we’d still be talking about baseball here. The Triple A Beavers left town when fan excitement focused on the Timbers, but should that mean the end of Portland baseball?

When you consider the sun in Arizona and the rain in Portland, the two cities feel even more similar. The Cubs built their Mesa field with ninety percent of the seats in the shade. Portland couldn’t find a way to keep their fans happy?

cubs

Since that didn’t happen, why not aim for a bigger target?

The Cubs complex in Mesa includes baseball fields and a performance center with the Under Armour name attached. It’s called The Under Armour Performance Center and it’s not the only one. The Baltimore Ravens have an Under Armour Performance Center to go along with a recent Super Bowl victory.

If the Cubs win the World Series you’ll know something important is happening with Under Armour. Why not bring the same ‘important’ to Portland?

Make it work like this: Remove the economic and social aspects of fitness. Instead, build a gym with a screening that includes individual assessments. The people invited to join will share a fitness profile that includes a regular workout schedule, a healthy diet, and a commitment to lifelong wellness.

Once potential members pass the assessment and meet the fitness standards, the costs of joining the gym will be lower than any others. Portland would become the center of cutting edge fitness. Would Under Amour sponsor an elite gym for the elites in the community? Not the economic or social elite, but the fitness elite.

Oregon could follow Arizona as the destination for athletes and others seeking a physical re-start. How many professional players have found a new career after going to Arizona? Grant Hill? Shaquille O’Neal? Kurt Warner?

What baby boomer wouldn’t want that?

Nike has made the sort of fitness inroads you’d expect from a world-wide leader in sports, but you have to be a Nike employee, or a University of Oregon scholarship athlete, for a direct fitness benefit. You won’t be sweating at the World Headquarters gym, or showering at Duck football facilities. If you did, you’d feel special.

The Portland Under Armour Performance Center would extend the special feeling to a greater population, but a population based on performance.

If you made the cut, would you join a gym full of proven fitness fanatics?

(posted on oregonsportsnews.com)

 

 

About David Gillaspie
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