In Eugene, Oregon, Hayward Field is a historic place, even “magic” to all of track & field’s faithful across the world.
To Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike Inc. and former middle-distance runner for the Ducks, “this is where it all began.”
It was here the great Bill Bowerman, Knight’s mentor and co-founder of Nike, coached monumental athletes like Steve Prefontaine.
While this history of greatness still feeds the University of Oregon’s bold, rebel-like brand today, the school’s athletics programs have always been driven by innovation and new ideas.
Recently, the architects at SRG Partnership redesigned Hayward Field in a way that builds on this legacy by both acknowledging the past while providing a bold vision for the future and the magic yet to come.
The reimagined Hayward Field is envisioned as the “finest track and field facility in the world.”
It’s designed to give the University of Oregon’s championship-caliber student-athletes, and athletes from around the world, an unparalleled stage on which to push the limits of what is possible.
A true theater for a track, Hayward Field sets a new standard for fan experience and connection to the sport with comfortable seating for every single patron, a diversity of in-stadium food and beverage amenities, great sight lines, and close proximity to the athletes and the action.
The Athlete’s Experience:
The 12,650-seat stadium (expandable to nearly 25,000 seats) provides world-class facilities for the UO’s track and field student-athletes to train, develop, and perform at their highest potential.
All aspects of the stadium beyond the competitive track were envisioned to be used by the athletes for training—from the public concourses and ramps totaling 84,085 square feet, which are covered in track surfacing, to winding vertical stairs climbing the soaring Hayward tower.
Beneath the stadium is nearly 40,000 square feet dedicated to training and recovery, including several amenities for the athletes to be social and come together as a team.
Examples of these team amenities beneath the stadium include an indoor practice area, including a six-lane, 140-meter straightaway and two-story interior space for long jump, triple jump, throws, and pole vault.
There’s also a 100-seat team auditorium; team locker rooms, lounge, and shared study spaces; weight training; equipment work-space, offices, storage and check-out; sports medicine and active/passive recovery; hydrotherapy, training and treatment; anti-gravity treadmills; nutrition station; and barbershop.
Spectator Connection and Experience.
In addition to the athlete’s experience, the fan experience was paramount to the design.
Open sight lines for all and the proximity of the spectators to the athletes—with the first row of seats on the new nine-lane track level—create a unique intimacy between athletes and fans.
The enhanced acoustics of the stadium help build anticipation and amplify the action, creating an immersive sensory experience.
A Connection to History:
While track and field competition brings the fans to Hayward Field, there is more to experience here than simply the sporting events.
Designed in collaboration with Gallagher, an 8,600 square-foot museum dedicated to the history of Oregon Track & Field tells the story of Bill Bowerman and the birthplace of Nike.
Inspirational graphics and monuments weave throughout the venue highlighting former Duck athletes and elements of the iconic Oregon brand. For example, the metal mesh that wraps the underside of the seating bowl highlights original sketches from Bill Bowerman, innovator and creator of the original Nike shoes.
His historic statue is also located outside the museum, sitting directly on the track and the third curve, allowing him to “see” all the athletes who will run by him.
Salvaged from the historic Hayward Field, plaques dedicated to Bowerman’s memory are located throughout the newly designed 15th Avenue promenade and at the gateway threshold from the plaza to the site.
To commemorate the nations of athletes who have competed at Hayward, a dramatic procession of 156 flags lines the perimeter of the south side of the stadium.
Together, the people, stories, and elements of what have made Oregon Track & Field iconic and championship-caliber through the years provide context to this special place and inspiration for young, aspiring student-athletes.
The Significance of Wood:
When first conceptualizing the new Hayward Field, the design team came across the quote, “Oregon is Wood and Wood is Oregon,” by Bill Bowerman, inspiring the heroic wood canopy structure and other wood elements throughout the stadium.
The soaring canopy structure, or “bents,” surrounding the stadium are a powerful connection to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
At the same time, this heroic scale structure is a physical representation of the most important aspect of the University of Oregon brand – innovation. Paired with the light, airy, translucent ETFE canopy roof, this environment enhances acoustics and provides rain protection and shade for the fans below.
The 9-story Hayward Tower marks the main public entry and serves as a campus and community-wide landmark for this historic site.
The interior includes coaches’ amenities, offices, and meeting rooms and the open upper deck will be made public for all Hayward visitors to enjoy the 360-degree view of Eugene and the surrounding valley.
The exterior is clad with a perforated metal panel featuring imagery of five Oregon track and field icons: legendary coach Bill Bowerman, Steve Prefontaine, Raevyn Rogers, Ashton Eaton, and Otis Davis.
The steel form flares upward and outward to resemble the Olympic torch, a fitting nod to the success Oregon Athletes have had and will continue to have on the biggest of competitive world stages.
Photographs are by Kevin Scott.