Birthplace of Nike
The Nike company took its first steps here in Eugene and Springfield. Former Olympian and University of Oregon Track Coach Bill Bowerman created a waffle-iron fashioned rubber-sole running shoe, and teamed up with middle-distance UO runner Phil Knight to refine and market this new running shoe. Phil Knight sold them out of the back of his car during track meets at Hayward Field. "Blue Ribbon" was the first name of the starter running shoe company that later became Nike.
Nike, Inc. was established in 1968, named after the Greek goddess of victory. This partnership ignited the largest sports and fitness company in the world. Phil Knight's book Shoe Dog offers a compelling look into the building of the Nike brand and references many regional landmarks.
The Graduate Eugene hotel in downtown Eugene has an extensive museum collection of generations of Nike shoes built into their lobby desk and on display around the hotel.
Visit the Eugene Nike Store in Market Alley in the Market District, and the nearby Eugene Running Company at Oakway Center, both which feature museum-like collections of TrackTown USA memorabilia. And stop by Hayward Hall adjacent Hayward Field to view an interactive replica exhibit of Bill Bowerman's workshop.
Today Nike is headquartered in Portland, but owner Phil Knight is actively involved in supporting the University of Oregon and has contributed to many campus buildings and sports venues. From the UO Law School to the Autzen Stadium expansion, the John E. Jaqua Center for Student-Athletes to the Matthew Knight Arena, his imprint is recognizable across the campus. When the Oregon Duck football team takes the field, their extensive wardrobe of Nike uniforms frequently makes newscaster commentary.
Phil Knight, affectionally known as "Uncle Phil" to University of Oregon staff and students, most recently generously donated to the construction of both the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and the reimagined Hayward Field.