EUGENE, Ore. - The Eugene City Council has decided not to proceed with the process to give Hayward Field historic status.
The council met for a work session on Wednesday, May 9, to make the final decision. The session had been scheduled because many community members were upset when they heard about the planned demolition and renovation of Hayward. They felt no communication about the project had come their way, and they asked the council to consider this dedication in the hopes that it would halt demolition and give them a chance to save at least the east grandstands.
The council ultimately decided not to take this action on the grounds that doing so would be purely symbolic. The University of Oregon would quickly be able to petition the status, and in the end it would only delay the project.
A delay was dangerous because it could have cost the UO losing important opportunities, like hosting the 2021 Worlds Championship in Athletics.
"So I felt we'd had a good conversation. We talked about the things that I think council needed to hear from the university in order to move forward and feel comfortable not having a designation," said Eugene Mayor, Lucy Vinis.
Many community members attended the deciding work session. Some of them felt this was the right decision, and that Hayward would remain historic no matter what form it took.
"It's historic because of what's going on in there," said Harun Abda, a track athlete at the UO. "It's not the building, it's what goes in there."
Other people felt this was the wrong decision, and it showed no value of history from the city. They said even though this vote would have been only symbolic, it was a stand worth taking.
"It seems important that a few things called history remain. Somebody in the council talked about, 'I want to think about the future.' The future is also understanding the past," said Otto Paticha, an employee with the University of Oregon.
Moving forward, the council said they want to keep lines of communication open between the University of Oregon and the public. They feel as long as community involvement is happening, people will feel more respected in this process.
"And I do not think we are in any danger of failing to tell the story about Hayward Field, and the East Grandstands, and the legacy of track and field in our community, and the future of track and field in our community," Vinis said.
The council will also be getting more directly involved by helping out with parking and other inconveniences during and after construction. They’ll also be finding a way to symbolically use the remains of the east grandstands after demolition.
Demolition of the field is expected to begin this coming June.
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