Hayward Field remodel controversy

Supporters of Hayward's east grandstand about out of options: Oregon track & field rundown
Posted June 12, 2018 at 11:33 AM | Updated June 12, 2018 at 11:43 AM

I have updated a post I wrote yesterday about the start of preliminary work on the Hayward Field reconstruction project.

The sight of workers removing seating from the east grandstand yesterday freshly enflamed opponents of the stadium design for the project adopted by the University of Oregon.

After I published the post I heard from Mark Whitmill of Eugene's building and permit services and Ian Johnson, associate deputy state historic preservation officer.

Whitmill wrote in an email the city has determined the reconstruction project complies with all relevant city codes and regulations.

Johnson said in a phone call this morning the university has been consulting with the State Historical Preservation Office. 

It appears to me the university is making an effort to comply with state law. But even if it chose not to, Johnson said, SHPO has no enforcement arm, and there is no penalty for non-compliance.

Opponents of the project seem to have varied reasons for their opposition to the razing of the current stadium. Some don't like the new design. Some want to protect the east grandstand for historic preservation reasons. Some don't like the process used to pick the design. Some have a deep emotional connection with the east grandstand from years of watching meets there or competing in front of it.

Whatever their motivation, I think they are about out of options unless they want to lawyer up and go to court. 

The R-G's Christian Hill does a nice job with his story about yesterday's events.

LetsRun.com weighs in, slamming the project for a process LRC contends seems designed to avoid public oversight.











Preliminary work begins on demolition of east grandstand at University of Oregon's 'historic' Hayward Field


Preliminary work on Hayward Field's reconstruction project Monday drew an angry response from those seeking to save the east grandstand of the 99-year-old University of Oregon track stadium.

Photos and videos circulating on the internet appear show workers taking out benches from the east grandstand.

University of Oregon spokesman Tobin Klinger said in an email that contractors were doing "prep work and some early salvage."

Bob Penny, informal leader of a group seeking to preserve the east grandstand, issued the following statement: 

 "In our opinion as of this morning, June 11th, The University of Oregon is in noncompliance with state statute ORS 358.653.  We checked this with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) this morning.  The latest offer just last week of mitigation standards by the University to the SHPO was deemed inadequate by the state agency.  City Code chapter 8.005 (13) (c) clearly states that a permit is invalidated if, when it is executed, it is used to violate any other law.  Noncompliance with ORS 358.653 constitutes a violation of state law, and so it is our opinion today's work violates and invalidates the demolition permit issued by the City of Eugene for the Hayward Field Renovation Project.  The City permit office has been informed of our grave concern about the willful destruction of publicly owned historic property.  No qualified officials were in the office to receive a complaint this morning on the first day of work for this highly controversial public project. We will be speaking with lawyers at our earliest opportunity to decide upon further action." 

Replying by email, Klinger disputed the contention that anything happening Monday at Hayward Field violated state law.

"The university is in full compliance with the law and with a city-issued demolition permit," Klinger wrote. "The university has diligently consulted with SHPO in conversations that continue to this day. SHPO was informed of the planned salvage operations that commenced today, and has been apprised of the extensive efforts undertaken to preserve and honor the history associated with Hayward Field.

Attempts to reach officials at the city Eugene and the State Historic Preservation Office were unsuccessful.

Hayward Field must be renovated for Eugene to host the 2021 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships as schedule.

In April the school unveiled renderings of a new, modern stadium that would take its place. The new stadium is said to cost more than $200 million, all privately raised. Lead donors are Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.

According to an article on the UO website, the project will start in earnest on June 19

Opponents prefer another design proffered by famed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield. Hatfield's design would preserve the historical appearance of the stadium. A version of the east grandstand, the oldest part of the stadium and one preferred by some fans for its historic significance and for aesthetic reasons, was included as part of Hatfield's design.

Hatfield also suggests the design adopted by the university, horseshoe shape and open to the north, could help create a swirling wind that will detract from performances.

-- Ken Goe




EUGENE -- Supporters of a design for the coming Hayward Field remodel that would preserve the 99-year-old stadium's threatened east grandstand met Saturday at Agate Hall to discus possible paths forward.

About 50 people attended the meeting.

Among the speakers were ...

-- Tinker Hatfield, Nike's vice president for design and special projects,.

-- Former University of Oregon architecture professor Don Peting, emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Oreogn.

-- Bob Penny, who has been an informal leader of the group.

-- Peter Thompson, a former track coach and administrator of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

-- Humboldt State distance coach Jamey Harris.

The University of Oregon stadium needs to be renovated so it can host the 2021 World Outdoor Championships as scheduled.

East grandstand supporters have rallied around a design by Hatfield, a former University of Oregon pole vaulter who has an architecture degree from the school and has gone on to fame as a shoe designer.

Hatfield's design would preserve the east grandstand. The design adopted by the University of Oregon would raze the current stadium and build a completely new structure. That design is expected to cost more than $200 million, all privately raised. Lead donors are Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.

The group that met Saturday discussed what legal and historical preservation options they might have to save the east grandstand.

Hatfield praised the open feel of the current stadium, contending it promotes a relationship between the athletes competing and practicing there, the school and the community. He said a 20-foot around the stadium that is a component of the adopted design could sever that.

Hatfield said the new design, horseshoe in shape and open to the north, would not be conducive to good performances.

"If you ever ran at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington, it was the worst place ever to run track," Hatfield said. "The wind came off the lake and went into that big horseshoe and swirled around. You might have a headwind all the way around.

"Or if you were a sprinter or a pole vaulter, you might be hit by four different winds on one straightaway."

Hatfield said the new design is similar to the one that used to be in Husky Stadium.

"When the big track meets come later in the spring -- and I've had wind studies done like crazy -- you're going to get this wind that comes from the north, and it's going to circulate inside that stadium," Hatfield said

Peting disputed contentions the east grandstand was unsustainable because it is build of wood.

"There are churches in Norway, which has terrible weather conditions, that are 800 years old and made of wood," he said.Harris, who spoke with reverence about running at Hayward as a high school, college and professional athlete, wore a "Stop Phil" t-shirt.Hatfield noted the shirt, and called Knight "a kind and generous man." He said the Nike co-founder "means well and cares about what happens in Eugene. the University of Oregon and Hayward Field. I really hope there is some way to slow this project and get through to him."-- Ken Goe
Tinker Hatfield blasts Hayward Field design adopted by the University of Oregon
Updated 6:09 AMPosted 5:00 AM

This is an updated picture of the Tinker Hatfield design for the reconstruction of Hayward Field. Hatfield's 
design was the official design for a while, but since has been rejected.(Tinker Hatfield)
By Ken Goekgoe@oregonian.com
The Oregonian/OregonLive

Tinker Hatfield is a former University of Oregon pole vaulter and has an architecture degree from the school.

He has a brilliant reputation as a shoe designer, and is the man behind the Air Jordan basketball shoe. He is currently Nike's vice president for design and special projects.

Hatfield's design for the Hayward Field reconstruction in Eugene was the one first selected. That design sought to keep the iconic look of the stadium as much as possible, and retained the 99-year-old stadium's east grandstand, while updating Hayward Field to the level required to stage the 2021 World Outdoor Championships as scheduled.

For reasons not entirely clear, Hatfield's stadium design was rejected at some point in favor of one unveiled last month. The new design will replace the old stadium with one with a completely different design. It is expected to cost more than $200 million, with the money privately raised and with Phil and Penny Knight the lead donors.

Hatfield said he is willing to make this email public. What follows are his words. I have lightly edited them for clarity.

-- Ken Goe

If you're gonna spend north of $200 million ... please ... consider this.

For all that moola you get a fancy looking stadium but you get a second-rate PERFORMANCE venue and a third rate INDOOR training facility.

Another way of putting it is, few if any "American" or "world records" will be set in such a stadium. The design and the decision to build it for such a high price is seemingly based on whether or not (Nike co-founder) Phil Knight and (IAAF president) Sebastian Coe think it's a fitting HIGH STATUS platform for a World Championships. 

Although I can understand the international perspective and prestige issues, personally I cannot agree with the "before and after" effects of such a design decision.

Unfortunately, not many people understand "high performance sports," let alone architecture, so it's relatively easy to put a shiny object in their view and get them excited. That is the phenomena we are facing today. The University of Oregon won't say boo because it just recently became the beneficiary of Knight's very generous gift of $500 million for science. The gift will change the University of Oregon forever, in a good way.

The same could be said of this $200 million gift to Hayward Field, except that the change will be a negative one for track and field in the long run. Let me explain.

As I see it, the new GLASS HORSESHOE design is beautiful, even sensual and on TV and in person it will be spectacular. 

The big problem is, IT DOES NOT WORK.

The curving glass roof creates a sense of place but is most unfortunately NON FUNCTIONAL. As described in the architectural renderings it will not protect MOST fans from the frequent rain and wind that occurs in Eugene (nearly year around) and certainly there will be no respite from the hot sun which occurs less frequently.

The sum total, however, is poor-to-nonexistent performance year round which, when pondered, is quite an achievement in architectural buffoonery. The big prognostication I'll throw out there is a very grim one. Actual attendance at most track meets will drop. The magic of Hayward Field is really the crowd. Keep 'em dry and they will come. Let 'em get wet and they will NOT come. Please think about this anecdotal observation. I'm warning you by way of this letter that for anything less than the Prefontaine or Olympic trials, the attendance at Hayward Field will sadly diminish.

The 20-foot high stone wall, although nice for a fortress, is not so great for Eugene, unless we are expecting a medieval military attack from Corvallis. The wall, completely severs the community from the track because it's both a physical and metaphorical barrier. Hayward Field is, in part, a unique and desirable venue BECAUSE it's connected to students, visitors and casual passersby on a day in and day out basis. It's a friendly and accessible community asset.

The demolition of the EAST GRANDSTAND is unnecessary and completes the severing, only this time I am referring to the important connections from past to future. Tearing down the EAST GRANDSTAND will eliminate 4,800 perfectly good seats (well, most of them are perfectly good). Those seats will be replaced by 1,200 very nice nice seats indeed, if you like being soaked in the rain or baked in the sun. The 3,600 unhappy people are going to be displaced to the south or west, which is against their historical nature. I'm one of them. I ONLY SIT on the EAST SIDE, because you can watch the pole vault but also see who wins the races, due to a panoramic view of the home stretch.

Former Oregon track coaches Bill Bowerman and Bill Dellinger both sat on the east side. Once the EAST GRANDSTAND goes down, (city ordained) street setbacks kick in and the number of seats go way down as does the encouraging RUMBLE of the wooden structure when all 4,800 stomp their feet. Many athletes have spoken of the big shot of adrenaline imbued by the enthusiasm and noise from the EAST GRANDSTAND. There are ways to modernize, improve safety and comfort for the EAST SIDE FANS without tearing down the historic structure. I've read the structural report. ANYBODY who says the EAST GRANDSTAND is unsound is being untruthful. I have full access to said report should anyone want to read it.

The BOWERMAN TOWER is a monument to Bill he would surely hate. He'd rather see the money go to improving performance for the athletes. I'm reminded of developers who mow down a forest to build a housing development only to come back in and name the streets after the very trees and wildlife they've destroyed. It's immoral to some.

As for performance design, virtually ANYBODY who has ever competed in a horseshoe shaped stadium can attest to the creation of swirling winds which hinder performance and destroy confidence. I'm simply flabbergasted by the lack of consideration for the most important criteria of a good sports venue.

I sincerely hope that collectively and individually your voices and those of many concerned fans and athletes alike will speak to Phil in this final hour. Please don't let this mistake of epic proportion be the eventual end of the Hayward Field magic.

-- Tinker Hatfield


OREGON TRACK AND FIELD

Phil Knight rolls the dice with the future of Hayward Field: Oregon track & field rundown

Posted June 03, 2018 at 11:12 AM | Updated June 03, 2018 at 10:36 P

By Ken Goe

While reading Nike co-founder Phil Knight's memoir, 'Shoe Dog," I remember being struck by how often he gambled big and won as he was turning his company into a global behemoth, 

He went with his gut, against advice, and it paid off.

He is doing it again with the Hayward Field reconstruction, and it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

Knight's favored design has alienated people with whom he has had long personal and/or professional relationships. Among them are the sons of his beloved coach and fellow Nike co-founder BIll Bowerman, the sisters of distance legend Steve Prefontaine, a spiritual guiding star for Nike, and Tinker Hatfield, the brilliant designer who is Nike's vice president for design and special projects.

Bowerman's sons are so adamantly opposed to the nine-story tower planned for the new stadium's northeast corner, that Knight reluctantly has agreed to take their dad's name off of it.

The R-G's Austin Meek has the story about the conflict and the resolution, which includes the tower but stripping Bowerman's name from it.

Going ahead with it anyway makes me question if the point of the tower ever was to honor Bowerman.

I haven't seen Knight address Hatfield's concerns about the new design's functionality.

In an email to me, Hatfield wondered whether the purpose for the new design is just to look spectacular on television.

If so, that would seem antithetical to the ethos that made Nike so successful as a company. 

Hatfield's deeper concern seems to be that the new design will sever the bond between the sport and community that has created Track Town.

As many on both sides of the issue have pointed out, it's the fans and not the stadium that create the measurable force athletes the world over have come to call Hayward Magic. 

The old stadium, for all its deficiencies -- and, there are many -- works in synergy with the fans to enhance that. Whether the new stadium planned by Knight and his troubleshooter, Howard Slusher, also can do that, remains to be seen.

Knight and his wife, Penny, are putting up much of what is estimated to be more than $200 million for the project. For the University of Oregon, that apparently is enough to give the Knights final say.


When Knight came back to the table a month later, he did so with the understanding that things would have to change. Tinker Hatfield, the Nike designer credited with some of the company’s most influential ideas, no longer had a role on the project. Howard Slusher, a longtime Nike consultant and Knight confidant, became the de facto project manager, executing a vision far different from the one represented in Hatfield’s original designs. 











 Before
 After


From the outside, Hayward Field looks exactly as it did in 2015, when the University of Oregon announced plans to renovate its iconic track and field venue.

By now, the aging facility was supposed to have been replaced by a state-of-the-art stadium capable of accommodating the 2021 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Instead, the project stalled as the university searched for a design that would satisfy the International Association of Athletics Federations, Eugene’s hard-core track fans and the school’s largest donor, Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

The university says it has found that design — which includes a complete teardown of the East Grandstand, once slated for partial preservation — and will unveil plans to the public next month. But some stakeholders, including the son of legendary Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman, have expressed concern about what they see as a lack of transparency surrounding the project.

“I definitely support the idea of the renovation, but I worry (about) the direction it’s going right now, without public input, and without disclosure, and without the opportunity for stakeholders to participate and share in ownership of it,” Jay Bower­man said.

The clash between history and modernity is a familiar one at Oregon. This time it involves two legendary figures in the history of track and field: Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, the coach and the middle-distance runner who went on to found Nike and alter the landscape of the sport indelibly.

Oregon says the new stadium will honor the legacy of Bill Bowerman, who died in 1999. But Jay Bowerman said the secretive nature of the project has left some stakeholders feeling shut out, prompting speculation and anxiety among those faithful to Hayward Field’s history.

“My worry is that by following a process like this, it just opens the door for rumor and issues that run the risk of jeopardizing the project, the university and the reputation of Eugene and the state,” Jay Bowerman said. “It just doesn’t make sense. It’s just not the right way, at least I don’t believe it’s the right way that things should be done.”

Project ran into delays

Renovating Hayward Field was one of the first orders of business after Eugene landed the 2021 World Championships. Along with upgrading amenities and replacing crumbling infrastructure, designers needed to expand the stadium to meet the 30,000-seat capacity stipulated by the IAAF.

Oregon unveiled plans for a redesigned stadium in September 2015. The concept, inspired by Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, called for preserving elements of the East Grandstand, the oldest and most iconic part of the venue.

“With Tinker Hatfield’s magnificent design vision, Hayward Field is sure to set a new standard as the home for athletes from across the world,” TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna said at the time.

Almost immediately, the project ran into delays. Construction was pushed back to accommodate the relocation of a cellphone tower, then was stalled again by what were described at the time as “design issues.”

Sources trace the change in direction to one overriding factor: the involvement of Knight, who had been a more passive participant early in the process.

Fundraisers recognized the renovation wouldn’t happen without Knight’s support. The project moved ahead with his tacit approval, but the initial design failed to elicit an enthusiastic response or a firm financial commitment.

“I just don’t think he ever bought into it,” said a source involved in the project.

The involvement of Howard Slusher, Knight’s longtime confidant and Nike associate, signaled a shift in direction. Slusher, a former sports agent known for his hard-nosed negotiating tactics, joined the design team about a year ago and began implementing a vision more closely aligned with Knight’s.

Slusher also oversaw construction of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex and the Jaqua Center for Student Athletes, Knight-backed projects on the Oregon campus. He is a controversial figure in Oregon circles, not known for compromise or broad collaboration.

“You look back on Howard’s involvement with other projects at the University of Oregon, and the record doesn’t look real good,” Jay Bowerman said. “It clearly shows that when he’s got a hand in it, he’s going to do it his way and he doesn’t really much give a crap how anybody else feels about it.”

Paul Weinhold, CEO of the University of Oregon Foundation, said the design team went to great lengths to seek outside input, visiting facilities in eight countries, consulting a raft of experts and incorporating ideas from coaches and athletes who will use the stadium.

Though Slusher is charged with executing aspects of the project, ultimate authority rests with the university, Weinhold said.

“Howard is a bulldog when it comes to execution and getting things done, but the university, they’re the ones who approve the project,” Weinhold said. “They approve the design and Howard gets the job done.”

“Hayward magic”

Erected in 1925, Hayward Field’s East Grandstand holds a special place in the hearts of Oregon track fans. The wooden bleachers are where fans cheered star Steve Prefontaine on the back stretch, where Bill Bowerman held court with his athletes and where the term “Hayward magic” originated.

Preserving the look of the East Grandstand, either in structure or in spirit, was central to the original design concept. Quietly, the university has since decided to raze the East Grandstand and replace it with a structure more congruent with the rest of the stadium.

Rumors of the design change sparked concern for many in Eugene’s track community, including Scott Krause, who started a petition on change.org to keep Hayward Field from being demolished. It has about 350 signatures so far and has been getting support on Facebook from former Oregon thrower and assistant coach Sally Harmon and Neta Prefontaine, one of Steve Prefontaine’s sisters.

Krause’s main focus is the East Grandstand, which was built during the coaching days of Bill Hayward himself.

“I think we need to do what we can to save that structure,” said Krause, who worked in promotions and marketing at Nike under Geoff Hollister during the late 1970s and early 1980s. “This place is the Carnegie Hall of track and field and even if it does cost more money to save parts of it, there should at the very least be a discussion.”

Weinhold said the challenges of preserving the East Grandstand became apparent as the project progressed. Along with issues of structural integrity, he said architects felt the grandstand would look out of place with the rest of the facility.

“There was a really strong desire to maintain Hayward Field on the east side,” Weinhold said. “As we went further along, we recognized with engineers and all the experts that the East Grandstands are basically rotten (with dry rot). They’re falling down.”

The private nature of those deliberations has left some stakeholders feeling shut out of the process. TrackTown USA has relied heavily on community support to stage a series of large meets, including the Olympic Trials, the NCAA Outdoor Championships and the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships. With the future of Hayward Field in the balance, some of those supporters say they’ve been left in the dark.

“We all feel very strongly about historic Hayward Field,” said Bruce Mortenson, a 1965 NCAA steeplechase champion for the Ducks and longtime Oregon Track Club member. “People in town here who have been fans for years, OTC members, alumni, it’s pretty meaningful to them.

“They probably will come up with something really, really nice, but gee, I wish they would’ve had at least some open meetings where we could’ve given input. … People who’ve worked there or fans who have been there could say, ‘Well, we’d like to see this or that.’ Whether they used it or not isn’t even the point. It’s a public university.”

Privately funded

As with other projects financed by Knight, Oregon plans to lease the property to a private LLC for the purposes of construction. Rather than use the entity originally established for that purpose, Hayward Enhancement LLC, the property will be leased to Phit LLC, a company registered to the UO Foundation and backed by Knight.

That arrangement has been criticized as a way to circumvent the usual disclosure requirements for a public project. Because the project is being funded strictly through private donations, Weinhold said, the university isn’t obligated to disclose its contracts or construction costs.

“The only reason we do it this way is because it’s a privately funded project,” Weinhold said. “There are no state funds. We honor all of the state labor and wage laws. It just makes it a separate project from the university.”

Though details of the project remain scarce, those involved believe spectators and athletes will be pleased with the result.

Oregon track coach Robert Johnson hasn’t seen the latest designs but said he’s been told his team will get everything it asked for, including locker rooms, training facilities, meeting rooms and everything currently packed into the undersized Bower­man Building, which is also scheduled for demolition.

“This is going to be wonderful for the program, something that we’re going to be able to use for 365 days a year,” Johnson said. “It’s not, ‘We’re just building this for the world championships.’

“All throughout the process, from the beginning, they’ve reached out to us and asked us what we need to continue to be successful.”

If Johnson had one quibble, it was an oft-­revised timeline that originally called for the stadium to be finished in time for the 2017 track and field season. The current plan calls for construction to begin in July, run through the 2019 season and be completed by April 2020.

“I try not to let those things weigh you down because you have no control over those things because they’re out of your hands,” Johnson said. “But one thing I do see is there is light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully this thing is over and done with before we know it.”

No matter what the finished product looks like, Johnson is confident the new Hayward Field will have one thing in common with its former version.

“It’s the people. It’s not necessarily the place,” Johnson said. “Places change; it’s the people that make this place special.”

Bowerman’s spirit

Capturing the intimate feel of Hayward Field in a larger venue is one of the challenges facing designers of the new stadium.

Though the number of permanent seats is a matter of dispute, Oregon lists current capacity at 10,500. Original plans called for increasing permanent seating to 12,100, though the university says a final number has yet to be determined. The stadium would utilize temporary seating for events requiring more than 12,100 seats.

The ability to fill those seats for meets beyond the World Championships is a concern for those hoping to preserve Hayward Field’s unique atmosphere.

“When the magic is there, it’s incredible,” Jay Bowerman said. “You leave a facility half-empty, and no matter how excited the remaining fans are, it just doesn’t happen anymore.”

Though he’s concerned about the direction of the project, Bowerman said the friction hasn’t affected his relationship with Knight, whom he described as “a very dear friend, and very much a part of my family.” His worry is that by the time designs are released to the public, the tight timeline leading up to the 2021 World Championships will leave no opportunity for community input.

“Everybody recognizes that Phil Knight has pledged a lot of money toward this, and everybody’s concerned that we’re so far down the road that if anybody starts making waves, it’s going to jeopardize everything,” Bowerman said. “I have to say that yielding to power and influence out of fear, just out of principle, is not the right way to make decisions.”

University officials don’t deny that Hayward Field is about to undergo a massive transformation. They say the changes are in keeping with Bill Bowerman’s spirit of innovation, which defined his relationship with Knight and the company they founded together.

They hope that spirit will remain, even after Hayward Field comes down.

“I can’t imagine too many people care more about the legacy of Bill Bowerman and Hayward Field than Phil Knight,” Weinhold said.

“This place is the Carnegie Hall of track and field and even if it does cost more money to save parts of it, there should at the very least be a discussion.”


By Ken Goe

kgoe@oregonian.com

The Oregonian/OregonLive

EUGENE -- The University of Oregon rolled out renderings of the Hayward Field renovation on Tuesday in a staged event on the northwest corner of Hayward's track.

The new stadium as presented will have a space-age appearance, and every bell and whistle a track coach could want.

"It's above and beyond all the expectations we could ever have had," UO coach Robert Johnson said.

The new stadium is expected to cost more than $200 million, all privately raised from some 50 donors. Lead donors are Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.


Tuesday's presentation included a speech from UO President Michael Schill and a slick video that gave those in attendance an idea how the new stadium will look.
The Knights weren't at the rollout. Nor was a representative of SRG Partnership, the architectural firm which drew up the design. Nor was longtime Nike troubleshooter Howard Slusher, who is said to have made many of the final decisions.

The reconstruction is necessary to bring the stadium up to minimum specifications to host the 2021 World Outdoor Championships, as scheduled.

When the project is finished, the stadium will look nothing like the current Hayward Field, which seats approximately 8,500, most in two grandstands on the east and west sides of the track.

The design will be horseshoe shaped and have somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 permanent seats, divided into upper and lower bowls and separated by a gap on the southeast corner.

The exact number of seats isn't clear. A release from the school listed the permanent capacity as 12,900, but UO Foundation President and chief executive officer Paul Weinhold said the final number hasn't been determined.

"It's going to be 12,5-ish," Weinhold said. "I say 'ish' because we probably won't know the exact number until it's all mapped out."

Other notable features include:

-- A nine-lane track to be moved slightly west and slightly south of its current location.

-- There will be a transparent roof above the permanent seats, although it's unclear how far the roof will extend or how many seats will be covered.

-- A nine-story building rising over the northeast corner of the track will be shaped like an Olympic torch. The building will be known as the Bowerman Tower in honor of former UO track coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.

The building will include interpretive displays about Bowerman's life and legacy, offices, a media work area and a rooftop observation deck.

-- Temporary seats necessary to bring the stadium up to the 30,000-seat minimum for the world championships will be almost entirely on the north end of the stadium.

 The UO track team will have a 140-meter indoor training track that includes a curve. There will be dedicated space for UO pole vaulters and high jumpers. UO distance will be able to train out of the rain on a running surface above the stands.

-- There will be expanded locker rooms, meeting rooms and treatment rooms.

-- 15th Avenue on the north end of the stadium will be turned into a parklike pedestrian area.

-- The project is scheduled to begin in June and be finished by April 1, 2020.

Johnson said the Ducks were working on a 2020 home track schedule that would include the Pepsi Team Invitational, Oregon Relays, the Oregon Twilight and, possibly, a dual meet in conjunction with the relays.

Traditionalists won't like seeing the iconic east grandstand go away. Some are unconvinced the university will need a track stadium with that many permanent seats after the world championships.

Jay Bowerman, Bill Bowerman's son, has been a critic of the plan to tear down Hayward and start over. He wasn't at Tuesday's rollout. But he said he has heard about the plans and remains dubious.

"From what I've heard, it's overbuilt for the future," he said. "We don't need all of that space. The loss of the east grandstand is a loss to those of us who grew up with it."

But those gathered Tuesday at Hayward appeared to be looking determinedly forward. Johnson quoted recording artist Sam Cooke.

"Change is never easy," Johnson said. "But Sam Cooke said it best. Change is gonna come."

Ambition wins over tradition at Hayward


When tradition collides with ambition, tradition doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s been the story at the University of Oregon for as long as I’ve been in Eugene. The school’s tradition, which it will dust off and drag out of storage on occasion, often gets upstaged by a singular desire to be bigger and better than everyone else.

So of course Oregon wouldn’t be satisfied to spruce up Hayward Field with a fresh coat of paint and some new shingles. It had to tear down the old stadium and build in its place the greatest track facility in the history of the world, because that’s what Oregon does.

Traditionalists, as usual, can take a hike. Oregon doesn’t make a habit of asking the general public how to spend Phil Knight’s money. When you write the checks, you call the shots. Love it or hate it, Oregon fans are getting a track facility that has everything anybody could want, except for the historic qualities of the old one.

Oregon had a grand unveiling Tuesday with donors and dignitaries under a tent outside the West Grandstand. Knight wasn’t there, but he appeared on a video announcing the stadium design.

“I get pretty emotional about this place,” Knight said. “After all, I was born here.”

Knight’s philanthropy allows Oregon to do things most schools wouldn’t dream of doing. The new Hayward Field is part of a campus-wide transformation that includes the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, toward which the Knights have pledged $500 million.

Old, musty buildings aren’t part of that vision. That’s why McArthur Court is sitting empty right now, and why the bulldozers will be lining up at Hayward Field as soon as the track season ends.

For fans and alums who get sentimental about old buildings, Oregon has a clear message: Get on board, or get out of the way. The stadium design makes no concessions to bygone days. The East Grandstand is gone, replaced by a continuous horseshoe structure that spans the east, south and west sides of the track.

Imagine the Red Sox tearing down Fenway Park and building a new one without the Green Monster, or the Cubs building a new Wrigley Field without the ivy. If all the Hayward Field mythology is true, that’s what Oregon is doing by abandoning the East/West Grandstand configuration.

No one at Oregon should be surprised by the backlash regarding the stadium demolition. After all, it was the university and TrackTown USA that spent the past decade portraying Hayward Field as a mystical mecca of track and field, playing up the history of the venue in an effort to land larger and larger meets.

Historic Hayward Field was a great marketing pitch, right up until it was time for a new stadium. Now, suddenly, we learn that it was never about the structure itself, but some intangible property that imbues anything Oregon does in track and field.

Let me suggest that ambition, not tradition, has been the driving force all along. Playing up the history of Hayward Field made sense when Oregon was trying to make a 90-year-old stadium the semi-permanent home of the NCAA Championships and Olympic Trials. With the 2021 World Championships demanding a newer and nicer venue, all of Hayward Field’s warts and infirmities are suddenly coming to light.

I sympathize with those who loved simple, quaint Hayward Field, but that ship sailed as soon as Oregon landed the 2021 World Championships. The meet is going to be a showcase event for the university, the community and the state, and Oregon doesn’t do those things halfway.

Ultimately, that’s what doomed the original plan to preserve elements of the East Grandstand. In trying to blend the old with the new, Oregon ended up appeasing no one. Traditionalists won’t like the new design, but it’s a coherent concept with an eye toward the next century rather than the previous one.

Is it too big? Quite likely. Is it practical? In many ways, no. But that’s the price of ambition, which Oregon has shown itself more than willing to pay.

Oregon likes to say its tradition is innovation, one of those marketing slogans that’s rooted in truth. If Bill Bowerman cared about the status quo, he never would have poured rubber into his wife’s waffle iron. So in that sense, a reinvented Hayward Field is the logical extension of the last half-century of Oregon innovation.

The new stadium won’t please everyone. That was a given as soon as Oregon decided to mess with a place that means so much to so many people. But if you know even a little about how Oregon operates, it’s no surprise that the desire to be bigger and better outweighed a hazy nostalgia for the way things used to be.

Once again, ambition wins the day.

By Ken Goe

Designs for the new Hayward Field, presented yesterday in a ceremony at the track's northwest corner, had a big wow factor.

It's the details that were in short supply.

UO president Michael Schill, UO foundation president and CEO Paul Weinhold, and UO associate athletic director Vin Lananna struggled to answer basic questions about the exact number of permanent seats in the new stadium, and how many of the seats would be covered by the transparent roof at the top of the stadium.

It's hard to see from the renderings how the stadium will more than double its seating capacity from somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 to 30,000 simply by filling in around the open north end with temporary bleachers.

I'm sure there are answers to these questions. But the people who could provide them weren't available.

Lead donors Phil and Penny Knight weren't. Nor was anyone from the architectural firm SRG Partnership. Nor was anyone from Hoffman Construction, set to do the razing and reconstruction. Nor was semi-retired Nike troubleshooter Howard Slusher, the man who reportedly ramrodded the new design.

The process has been secretive from the start and excluded many people who have had a long emotional investment in track and field in this state and at the University of Oregon in particular.

That has led to a backlash from those who have spent a significant portion of their lives watching meets at what has been called historic Hayward Field.

The R-G's Austin Meek writes about the new design and the backlash, and concludes ambition trumped tradition, as it usually seems to do at the University of Oregon. Traditionalists, he writes, can get onboard or get out of the way.

Schill was more comfortable talking about the Hayward project in terms of a campus expansion, and emphasizing academic components of the stadium reconstruction such as additional classroom and lab space for the UO department of Human Physiology. That's fair. He is the university president.

But let's be clear. While the university didn't drive this project, it will take ownership. That ownership will continue beyond 2021, and will include upkeep and maintenance. 

Hayward needed to update the 99-year-old stadium to host the 2021 World Outdoor Championships as scheduled.

Whether it needed the finest track and field stadium in North American for regular season meets in 2022 and thereafter remains to be seen

Let's hope once the world championships depart, the stadium left behind doesn't come across as overdone and overdressed as a tuxedo at a frat kegger.


Debate about the new Hayward Field is unlikely ever to end: Oregon track & field rundown

Tinker 1.jpg




University of Oregon

By Ken Goe

A couple things ... 

-- I think the fate of Hayward Field has been settled.

I expect the stadium will be razed and rebuilt in a privately-funded reconstruction expected to cost more than $200 million. The new stadium will look something like the renderings rolled last month and nothing like the current stadium with its iconic east grandstand.

But the debate rages on, and probably will long after the new version of the stadium opens for business in the spring of 2020.

In this R-G op-ed by former IAAF senior manager Peter Thompson, he argues the University of Oregon has not kept faith with track fans or the community of Eugene by scrapping the original plan for the Hayward Field reconstruction.  The original design, he says, would have provided the stadium more flexibility in the way it could be used and preserved the east grandstand.

The earlier design by famed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield preserved the east grandstand, and is depicted in the photo above.