As one of the premier track and field programs in the country, the University of Oregon’s championship caliber student athletes deserve an unparalleled stage on which to push the limits of what is possible. Built in 1919 as a football venue, the program’s current stadium, Hayward Field, is sacred ground to Track and Field faithful around the world because of the accomplishments and performances of world class athletes and the connections they made with fans. Although portions of the historic building had great sightlines and spectators were close to the athletes, a vast majority of seating was sightline obstructed, not universally accessible, and unsafe because of the aging structure.
The team needed a new world-class stadium that provided quality training facilities to recruit top track athletes, a diversity of amenities to host prominent meets, and an unmatched fan experience with space for up to 25,000 spectators with connection to the action.
Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike Inc. and former middle-distance runner for the Ducks, stepped up to provide funding for what he envisioned as the “finest track and field facility in the world.” While its history of greatness still feeds Oregon’s bold, rebel-like brand, the school’s athletics programs have always been driven by innovation. The reimagined Hayward Field builds on this legacy by both acknowledging the past while providing a bold vision for the future.
A sprinter rounding a curve at record breaking speed, a pole vaulter reaching new heights, a discus thrower building energy through a windup - the design team was inspired by athletes and the energy and potential they harness when they are at their peak in training and performances. Overall building planning, design, and attention to all details throughout Hayward Field were meant to reflect this theme of speed and movement. The seating bowl and its roof are flowing and asymmetrical, growing in height to the southwest corner of the building. The resulting form of the building itself appears to be in motion, but also uniquely enhances athlete and fan experiences by packing the greatest number of seats and stadium amenities nearest the finish line of the track.
Hayward Field is made up of three primary components: the base, the seating bowl, and the roof canopy. The base, which encloses the training and team facilities and supports the stadium’s main public concourse above, is clad in precast concrete panels that ground the building visually from all sides. The precast panel shapes are trapezoidal, all leaning in the direction of the runners on the track, which is a nod to the theme of movement. The Stadium bowl was lifted off the main concourse to maximize fan flow and to open the stadium to views and daylight. Clad with a metal mesh screen on its underside, the bowl became a canvas for branding and connections to the site’s history, visible to all from the public concourse and beyond.
The soaring wood roof canopy structure was inspired by the Pacific Northwest and is a nod to Hayward Field’s historic wooden grandstands. Often stadium environments are dark and in shadow because of solid roof structures and materials. The ETFE roof was chosen to allow daylight in, while providing rain and wind protection for fans. Dubbed the “heart and soul” of track and field, a powerful metaphor of the Stadium as the body of an athlete emerged with the wood canopy structure being the “ribs” that support and protect the heart with a translucent “skin” roof covering.
Significance of Place
Hayward Field is located in the center of the University of Oregon campus. Surrounded by academic and campus recreation facilities, student housing and other athletics venues, the site has always been a place that connects students, athletes and the broader Eugene community. These intersections enable Hayward Field to be more than just a place for sport and competition. It represents the University’s commitment to innovation and a pioneering spirit that includes everyone. The entire north end of the stadium was left open, making the stadium welcoming and accessible to all. The E/W street along this northern edge was transformed from a street with cars to a completely pedestrian experience that stretches into the heart of campus and opens views into the stadium and across the Eugene valley from the seats within.
The Fan Experience
Hayward Field now seats 12,650 fans, up from 8,500, with the ability to expand to 25,000 seats for major events. The first row of seats is directly on the nine-lane track level and premium suites are open and close to the field, creating a unique intimacy between athletes and fans. Every seat is comfortable and spacious, with open sight lines of the entire field. Special attention was paid to the venue’s acoustics, which help build anticipation and amplify the action, creating an immersive sensory experience.
The Athlete’s Experience
All aspects of the stadium beyond the competitive track are designed to be used for training—from the public concourses and ramps covered in track surfacing, to winding vertical stairs climbing the soaring Hayward Tower that marks the stadium’s entrance. Beneath the stands are nearly 40,000 SF dedicated to training and recovery, including a six-lane, 140-meter straightaway and a two-story interior space for long jump, triple jump, shotput, discus throws, and even pole vaulting! There are places throughout the facility for the athletes to be social and come together as a team, such as a lounge, shared study spaces, a 100-seat auditorium, a nutrition station and a barber shop. Every aspect of training is available, including weights, sports medicine, hydrotherapy and anti-gravity treadmills.
A Connection to History
While track and field competition brings the fans to Hayward Field, there is more to experience here than the sporting events. Designed in collaboration with Gallagher & Associates, an 8,600 SF museum dedicated to the history of Oregon Track & Field tells the story of Coach Bill Bowerman and the birthplace of Nike. Inspirational graphics and monuments are woven throughout the venue, highlighting former Duck athletes and elements of the iconic Oregon brand. The metal mesh that wraps the underside of the seating bowl is illustrated with sketches from Bowerman, creator of the original Nike shoes. His statue is located outside the museum, sitting directly on the track at the third curve, allowing him to “see” all the athletes as they run by. Salvaged from the historic grandstand, plaques dedicated to Bowerman’s memory are located throughout the newly designed 15th Avenue campus promenade and an expansive plaza at the entrance 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. Altogether, the people, stories and history provide context for this special place and inspiration for the young, aspiring student-athletes who will visit.
The 9-story Hayward Tower marks the main public entry and serves as a campus and community-wide landmark. 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.