PK80 transforms Portland in to college hoops epicenter
PORTLAND, Ore. —
Jake Allen sat surrounded by a handful of his college friends, all of them decked out in Butler gear, as they enjoyed a few beers before a frenzy of college basketball action.
"This is our Thanksgiving," Allen said. "I think we're seeing eight to ten games."
Allen's Butler Bulldogs are part of the PK 80 Invitational Tournament, a college hoops event hosted a Portland's Rose Quarter in honor of Nike founder Phil Knight's 80th birthday.
"The coolest thing is the talent level," said Brian Fennama.
Three of last year's Final Four teams will play in the Rose City. The tournament features a handful of players who are expected to be lottery picks in the upcoming NBA draft. It also features 10 of the last 14 NCAA champions.
"You can't miss the opportunity to see Duke on the West Coast, and it's so rare that they play here," said Elaine Asher, who flew in from San Francisco.
Sting Ray Cafe is just across the street from the Rose Quarter, it was one of the few businesses that were open on Thanksgiving.
Inside a couple dozen fans from various fan bases ate sandwiches and drank beers.
"Everybody is really happy to be able to get a drink," said Brendan O'Malley, the cafe's owner. "It's not the end of the world (that I'm working on Thanksgiving) but you know I'd rather be open and make some money than just be sitting around."
Hometown teams like University of Portland and Portland State were in the mix, and Knight's alma mater Oregon is set to tip off against UConn at 6 p.m. Thursday.