Under Armour, Planning Donation to City Parks for Advertising Rights, Wanted Nike Swoosh Gone

Big Swooshes make bad neighbors. If you're a Nike competitor, that is.

Portland officials announced Friday that Baltimore-based fitness-apparel company Under Armour would pay to renovate Lents and Duniway parks in exchange for the right to put Under Armour advertisements in the two parks.

Duniway Park sits next door to the old YMCA building in Southwest Portland that will soon house Under Armour's new Portland offices.

The problem? Nike paid to renovate the track at Duniway Park in 1995. It also paid to maintain a giant electronic race clock next to the track. In exchange for that, the city gave Nike permission to put a 2 1/2-foot Nike Swoosh on the clock, which faces the old YMCA.

Under Armour didn't love the view, apparently.

Mark Ross, a spokesman for Portland Parks and Recreation, says Under Armour recently inquired about what kind of deal the city has with Nike to keep the logo. "Under Armour has asked parks about any agreement we may have," he wrote in an email to WW last week. Under Armour representatives didn't immediately respond to WW's request for comment. 

Ross initially told WW the agreement with Nike expired, perhaps in 2004. WW requested a copy of that agreement last week, but city officials didn't release it until Monday afternoon. A March 1996 city ordinance—crafted by Mayor Charlie Hales when he was a city commissioner who oversaw the parks bureau—said the deal expired in 2000.

Other newly released records show city officials scrambled to find documentation of the Nike deal amid discussions with Under Armour regarding the parks. "I'll dig through some of the old bankers boxes here and see what I might find," Earl Straley, parks maintenance supervisor, wrote in a January email. "I know there is (or was) some kind of an agreement."

That email was among 900 pages of records Portland officials released to Nike earlier this month after Nike learned of the city's discussions with Under Armour.

Ross says he doesn't know whether or under what conditions the Nike logo might stay. A Nike spokesman, Greg Rossiter, didn't immediately respond to WW's questions.

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