New PK Park Logo Features Personal Touches
Prior to Oregon's home football game against California last October, friends and family of former UO head coach Mike Bellotti met at a tailgate.
They were there to celebrate the unveiling of Bellotti's new plaque outside the Casanova Center, honoring his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. It was at that tailgate that Todd Van Horne, the former creative director at Nike, pulled aside former UO athletic director Pat Kilkenny to show him a design Van Horne was working on – an updated logo for Oregon's baseball stadium, PK Park.
Kilkenny had been athletic director when the Ducks decided to reboot their program, and it was his initials that graced the stadium. At a university widely known for its relationship with Nike co-founder Phil Knight, clarifying Kilkenny's association with the baseball stadium was part of Van Horne's motivation for updating PK Park's logo.
Kilkenny is a proud descendant of Irish heritage and an equally proud native of Heppner, a small town in Eastern Oregon. He is also a diehard fan of baseball, all of which Van Horne sought to convey in the new PK Park logo he showed Kilkenny at that tailgate outside Autzen Stadium back in October, on printouts spread out across the hood of a truck.
The reaction was visceral: "I got goosebumps," Kilkenny said. "It's very cool, and very special."
The new logo was designed this past offseason in conjunction with other PK Park upgrades including new turf, a new video board and new outfield fencing. The Ducks will play their first home game in the upgraded facility Friday, against St. John's at 4:05 p.m.
Above and beyond.
PK Park got a few upgrades in time for @OregonBaseball's home opener this Friday. #GoDucks
Tickets: https://t.co/3WvY4T77On pic.twitter.com/1plDeMCE66
— GoDucks (@GoDucks) February 23, 2022
That will be the first chance for fans to see updates to the park, including the new logo. The imagery includes a shamrock and a baseball diamond, a flying duck and the image of home plate, reflecting both Kilkenny's passion for baseball and affection for his hometown of Heppner. All of it is linked together in the style of a Celtic knot.
Van Horne has previously done design work for Heppner High on behalf of Kilkenny. He said about 10 years of picking up bits and pieces about Kilkenny's background went into the formulation of the new PK Park logo.
"There's the whole notion of, we're products of where we came from and who we came from," Van Horne said. "You combine 'who' and 'where' and you've got these great plotlines."
The characterization of "home" in the context of both baseball and his roots in Heppner might have been the most meaningful touch to Kilkenny, the former UO athletic director said.
"We're all blessed with lots of different assets when we're born, and mine was being part of a really extraordinary family, that grew up in a community that's quite special," Kilkenny said. "It never gets old making your family and your parents proud. That's at the root of everything that's good in our lives. People talk about the 'luck of the Irish,' and I sure have had more than I've earned."
The logo and other changes to PK Park are among the latest new touches to Oregon's world-class facilities. From Matthew Knight Arena to the Marcus Mariota Performance Center to the reimagined Hayward Field, all have storytelling elements like those Van Horne incorporated to honor Kilkenny.
"What's beautiful about all the different facilities at Oregon is, each one of them has a unique feel," Van Horne said. "There's unique branding elements, unique pieces that all feel really creative, really innovative. They push the sports forward in different ways, and reflect the attitude of what it means to be Oregon."
Kilkenny's pride in seeing his heritage and hometown honored in the new PK Park logo is balanced by his bashfulness at drawing attention to himself. He's looking forward to seeing the updated stadium in person this spring, as much as anything because it will bring a chance to see the university he adores playing a sport he loves.
"It's a game families can enjoy, it's America's game, and a community like Eugene and the University of Oregon deserved to have a baseball program," Kilkenny said. "We were so lucky to have George Horton as our coach, and to compete at a high level pretty quickly. And I think the next step from a leadership perspective couldn't be any better than Mark Wasikowski."