Hayward Field courtesy of University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon, also known as “TrackTown USA” around the globe, has a long-standing reputation for being a hub for world-class track and field competition and achievements. Hayward Field at the University of Oregon has long been the center in which all things track and field revolve around in the community. From being the home of the University’s athletics team, to hosting multiple NCAA D1 Track & Field Championships, many U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field, and the annual Diamond League Prefontaine Classic, this magical venue has hosted many notable events in its long history.
In 2018, the facility began a full reimagining and has been rebuilt into a stunning new competition venue. Construction was completed in spring of 2020 during the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The facility came to fruition in a year when sports were put on pause and we waited with bated breath to see how this pandemic would play out. Now at the start of 2021, the roll out of a vaccine brings hope that the rescheduled events of this last year will be able to take place in the coming months. The gleaming jewel of the University of Oregon campus that is Hayward Field shines bright and stands ready for sports, competition, and the famous roar of spectators to return to its prestigious new gates.
Lanes in Hayward Field courtesy of University of Oregon
The impressive new facility boasts 12,650 permanent seats and can be expanded to nearly 25,000, which is double its original capacity. Constructed as a “theatre” for track and field, the stadium was designed thoughtfully with unobstructed views of the nine-lane track and field for spectators. It also provides an intimate experience for spectators as they are close to the action and athletes—the closest seats being the first row, which is on track level. The famous “roar” of the crowd that creates the uniquely Hayward Field experience has been preserved and amplified with careful construction that will optimize acoustics.
The facility was carefully crafted for the athletes and features an impressive list of indoor amenities. The expansive indoor practice areas feature a 140-meter, six-lane straightaway, spaces for the triple jump, long jump, pole vault, and a netted enclosed throw area. Athlete’s will also enjoy weight rooms, spacious men’s and women’s locker rooms, a hydrotherapy room, treatment and rehab area, recovery spaces, and even an anti-gravity treadmill room. It will certainly be an experience for all athletes who have the opportunity to train and compete here.
Hayward Field is first and foremost a University of Oregon facility, the home of its track and field program, and the new location for the Department of Human Physiology. The department space will feature research labs, conference and video rooms, as well as joint access to the straightaway track.
Tower at Hayward Field courtesy of University of Oregon
The design of the facility is sleek and modern with an iconic roof which allows it to be both airy and bright with natural light, while paying homage to Oregon’s rich timber history. The facility is a show-stopping sight to behold and rounding out its eye-catching appearance is the large tower that graces the corner of the east grandstands. Modeled after the Olympic torch, the gleaming tower shoots up skyward and has already become a landmark of both the university campus and of Eugene. Larger than life portrayals of track and field legends of the past wrap around the perforated metal exterior of the tower. It is not only impressive to see but will serve many functions - such as office space, conference space, and an observation deck that will eventually be open to the public.
At street level along Agate street sits Hayward Hall, a 4,000 square-foot museum experience that showcases the deep roots and rich track and field history of both Hayward Field and the University of Oregon. Exhibit highlights from the museum will be a timeline of accomplishments of past UO coaches and a large exhibit dedicated to Bill Bowerman. The Bowerman exhibit may also feature a recreation of his original workshop which will tell the story of his work as an innovator and inventor, in addition to his coaching accomplishments. The museum is also planned to be open to the public, however the hours of operation have yet to be announced.
Inside Hayward Field courtesy University of Oregon
Events on the Horizon
If all continues to go to plan, Hayward Field will not sit empty for much longer. Excitement has been building for athletes and spectators alike as the events rescheduled from last year are finally on the horizon.
June of 2021 is expected to be an exceptionally busy month for the facility as both the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track and Field Championships (June 9 -12, 2021) and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track and Field (June 18 - 27, 2021) are scheduled. This will be the seventh time that Eugene has had the honor of hosting an Olympic Trials event. Rounding out the summer on August 21, 2021 is the triumphant return of the nation’s premiere track meet, the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic.
In 2022, Eugene and Hayward Field will welcome the world for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. It will be the first time in history that the event will be held in the United States. This monumental event will solidify our region as a global track and field (or athletics as it is known abroad) destination.
A big win for Eugene and Hayward Field in 2020 was the announcement that the home for the 2021, 2022 and 2024 through 2027 NCAA D1 Men’s & Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be held at Hayward Field.
Full List of Current Upcoming Events
June 9-12, 2021: NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships
June 18-27, 2021: U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track and Field
August 21, 2021: Prefontaine Classic
July 15-24, 2022: World Athletics Championships Oregon22
2021, 2022, 2024 - 2027: NCAA D1 Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships
Continuing the Tradition and Legacy
For years, athletes, coaches, and fans have said that there is nowhere that compares to the “magic of Hayward Field.” The stadium and the town come alive with an electricity that is contagious. The roar of the crowds from Hayward Field echo through the University campus, while the wins and losses experienced by athletes are felt throughout the community. The magic of Hayward Field was not in the old wood of the East Grandstands or on the field of play, it lives within each athlete and spectator that enters its gates. This new state-of-the-art facility will make the experience for spectators more accessible and intimate, while providing an exceptional and incomparable track and field of play for athletes.
The legacy of track and field will live on long and strong at Hayward Field for generations to come. The future indeed looks bright for TrackTown USA.