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Eugene, Ore. -- For over a year, University of Oregon head track and field coach Robert Johnson has been pitching recruits a promise: that the patch of dirt occupying the once historic Hayward Field would be a world class track & field venue soon enough. Standing in the recreational center on campus, he would show prospective student-athletes the construction site, which eventually became a shell of steel and concrete and finally, a stadium worthy of carrying on the Hayward legacy.
While there are pieces of the old venue placed within -- benches from the original grandstand line some areas of the concourse while cutouts of the original four track lanes are placed at athlete entrances that lead to the competition surface -- most of what defines new Hayward Field is its' modernism and its ability to be used year round. The entire concourse is comprised of a track surface material instead of concrete, which allows runners to train under the concourse in sub-optimal weather conditions. The incline that leads up to the concourse from the Bowerman curve was measured to five percent, which helps distance and cross country runners train hills without having to leave the facility. The awnings that shade the concourse have artwork taken directly from Bill Bowerman's notebook, from athlete times to inspirational phrases.
Beneath the concourse is a track and field athlete's playground that is unlike any facility at the college level. Duck throwers and field event athletes have indoor spaces to train long and triple jumps, high jumps and spaces for throws while sprinters have their own multi-lane area for 100 and 200 meter dashes. Johnson says that as much as the new Hayward Field was for fans of Oregon Track & Field, this project was primarily for the student-athletes and providing a world class facility for those competing for the Ducks and alums who return and train for IAAF events and the Olympics.
Hayward Hall, a museum type project that has an entrance on the northeast corner of the stadium, houses most of the historical artifacts of the old venue from trophies to memorabilia. A statue of Bill Boweman looks out over his curve and the rest of the stadium. While the grandstands that once held fans cheering on athletes from Steve Prefontaine to Ed Cheserek are essentially gone, the new Hayward holds the promise of making new memories for a new generation of track & field fans.