The Autzen 'O'

The Autzen 'O'

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — McKay Sohlberg is a fan of the Oregon Ducks. She just doesn't want to see the huge yellow "O'' that adorns Autzen Stadium every time she peers off her deck.

Sohlberg's complaints have led to a May 13 hearing over whether the University of Oregon has the proper permission to put the "O'' on the south side of the football stadium.

Originally, the 816-square-foot "O'' was hung by the athletic department for a national television pre-game show. It stayed after the TV crews had gone.

Sohlberg says the city should have applied for a permit or an exception before the "O'' went up.

"In a town with so much natural beauty, it seems terrible to allow one institution to dot it with branded signs," she said in her complaint.

In March, the Eugene planning director ruled the sign merited an exception to the code. But Sohlberg, a psychologist and associate professor at Oregon, appealed to a hearings officer, the next step.

"The huge lemon-yellow sign is a beacon on an already impressively large structure," she wrote in a letter to the city. "I love the 'O' on my sweatshirt, am a Duck fan, but I don't want to stare at this immense sign from my house. Just because the community likes the 'product' being promoted in this case, doesn't mean that the sign should be allowed to stay."

The university claims it is entitled to a variance because Autzen Stadium is too large, at 14 stories, to regulate.

Documents related to the matter do not indicate why the school didn't obtain a permit or exception in the first place.

"I don't think there really is a good reason," said Mike McKerrow, Eugene land use management supervisor.

University President Dave Frohnmayer said he didn't know the reason, either.

"It's our structure. I don't know that anybody gave it a second thought beyond that," he said.

The stadium also has a huge "O'' on the back of its video scoreboard, which has not drawn any complaints.

The university was criticized for plans to alter Portland's landmark "Made in Oregon" sign near several downtown Portland buildings the university helped renovate as part of its expansion outside the main campus in Eugene. The city and the university have since reached a compromise.

(Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.)

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