Home    Bucket List Events Blog
The New Hayward Field – Eugene, Oregon

In the passionate world of college athletics, it’s absolutely impossible to find a unanimous opinion on most things. This is especially true when discussing stadiums and environments. Basketball fans argue ad nausea about Rupp Arena vs. Cameron Indoor vs. Assembly Hall vs. Allen Fieldhouse – while some would staunchly object to all of the above. Ann Arbor, Tuscaloosa, South Bend, and all get votes for their stadiums and traditions, but some of those would not even make some fans list of best game day environment.

That is not the case in track and field. Hayward Field is the home of United States track and field, and Eugene is the home of Hayward Field. There is only one TrackTown, USA, and it’s a moniker that has been well earned for over half a century.

A Brief History of Hayward Field

Constructed originally in 1919, Hayward Field was initially built as the home for the Oregon Ducks football team as well as the men’s and women’s track and field teams. It remained the Ducks dual home until 1966 when Autzen Stadium was built for the football squad. Subsequently, Hayward Field became one of the only exclusive track and field venues in the United States as it remains today. The stadium gets its name after their legendary coach Bill Hayward, who led the Ducks for 44 years before passing the baton to the next iconic Duck coach, Bill Bowerman. Because of the Ducks running success through the years, coupled with a community infused with pride about its running acumen, the city of Eugene has been dubbed “Tracktown USA”. Although there were minor renovations through the years, the two-sided wood-constructed grandstands seating 10,500 remained relatively unchanged until it was demolished in 2018. Hayward Field has hosted innumerable events over the years, including multiple NCAA Championships, the 2014 World Junior Championships, the Nike Prefontaine Classic, and seven U.S Olympic Trials. The aura and mystique of Hayward Field, also referred to as “the magic of Hayward”, is synonymous with the nickname “Tracktown USA” and is a destination spot for ardent track fans around the country.  

In 2018, in an effort to accommodate athletes and spectators from all over the world, the modernized Hayward Field broke ground and was completed in 2020. Much of the funding for the new project was donated by alumnus and former Oregon runner Phil Knight, the former CEO and Chairman of Nike. With a seating capacity of 12,900 with possible expansion up to 25,000 for larger meets, this new track and field palace will serve as the domain for upcoming events such as the 2022 World Track and Field Championships and the Diamond League Finale in 2023.

The New Hayward Field

The main viewing details

The biggest difference on paper is the massive increase of seating capacity, raising from 10,500 in the old stadium to 12,650 permanent seats. There is also the ability to double the capacity in the new design. The new complex has been described as “a theater designed specifically for track and field,” a trait that is non-existent in North America. The new Hayward Field also boasts unobstructed sight lines throughout, which was not the case in the original structure. 

The lower level seating is perfectly raised to create a clean view of track, as opposed to the prior chain fence that surrounded the track. While the Olympic Trials were not at full capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, you could tell that the overhangs above helped capture great acoustics regarding crowd noise. The overhang is held up by beams of wood, which is a tip of the cap to Bill Bowerman himself. Before scheduled renovations on Hayward Field in 1974, he famously said “Oregon is wood, and wood is Oregon.” The roof is also open in the right places, which allows guests to take in the beautiful green hills of Eugene in the distance.

Lastly, while there is a bit of nostalgia remembering the wooden bench seating of the old Hayward, the cushy padded seats certain felt great and spacious when temperatures rose to 110 in Eugene during the 2020 Olympic Trials.

The Bowerman Tower

Already the most recognizable feature of the new stadium, the Bowerman Tower serves as a welcoming beacon to the track and field community. Made out of metal and steel, the shape was designed to resemble the Olympic Torch. The complex has not been opened to the public yet, but will feature exhibits, conference rooms, and offices, mostly focused on the life and legacy of Bill Bowerman both on and off the track.

On the exterior, the edifice dons the likenesses of Oregon heroes Ashton Eaton, Raevyn Rogers, and Steve Prefontaine.

At night, the tower is lit up in red and can be seen from most parts of the city of Eugene.

Honoring the past

The Restrooms

Please excuse our lack of photos of the restrooms, for obvious reasons.

First of all, the restrooms are aplenty and conveniently located all around the stadium. The original 1919 complex was not known for this trait. Now for the neat part: there is memorabilia and artwork in each of the restrooms. I don’t doubt for a second that a tour of the stadium would include stops in these areas not for their intended use, but because they serve as little satellite museums. Historical shadow boxes in the floor, incredible Oregon track and field themed artwork, nice facilities – be prepared to spend a little more time in the restrooms than you normally would.

The Plaza

As you walk up to the stadium, there are plaques acknowledging former Oregon Ducks who qualified for past Olympics. It’s neat to see athletes from all across the world that ventured to Eugene to advance their talents and trusted the school to help accomplish their dreams.

The Sections

While the sections are not named after the athletes, there is an image of an accomplished Oregon track athlete from their collegiate days around the crown of the stadium. The photo to the left has arrows pointing to some of the graphics, which included Laura Roesler, Harry Jerome, Hannah Cunliff and Matthew Centrowitz.

The Concourse

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that just about every inch of the stadium was thoroughly designed for maximum efficiency. This includes a 500 meter track surface that wraps around the stadium, as seen above. There is even a 5% gradient at one area where runners can run “hills.”

Your Dining Experience

New Hayward Field

Ashton’s Eatins

Named in honor the most successful Oregon athlete ever, decathlete Ashton Eaton.

Originally from Central Oregon, Eaton won the collegiate national title three times and won the Bowerman Trophy his final year as a Duck. After graduation, he won every major international competition from 2012 to 2016. This includes two Olympics (2012 and 2016), two World Championships (2013 in Moscow and 2015 in Beijing), and three World Indoor Championships (2012, 2014, 2016). He held the decathlon world record until 2019, and is one of the featured athletes on the Bowerman Tower.

New Hayward Field



English’s Garden

Named in honor of English Gardner, a five time national champion while at Oregon. She won the NCAA 100m twice in addition to the 60m indoors. In 2016, she was on the Team USA 4 x 100 relay that won the gold medal in Lane 1.

Barb’s Waffle House

So, what Does Running Have To Do With Waffles? Upon your first visit to Hayward Field on your way to your seat, you may pass by a concession stand curiously named “Barb’s Waffle House”. Continuing on the theme of every detail of the new Hayward Field having a connection to its past, this gem has a special relationship to the history of “Tracktown USA”. You may have learned that Bill Bowerman was the chief pioneer in what has become the world albatross known as Nike. When Bill was feverishly trying to find an appropriate sole for his dream shoe, he needed a device that would mold his rubber soles. Always the creative innovator, he had an idea to mold the soles using the waffle iron of his wife, Barbara. Legend has it that Barbara was none too happy to find her husband using her iron for such a purpose. Little did Barbara know what an integral role that waffle iron would play towards developing the world’s most recognizable name in sports marketing. If you want to see an up close example of an early Nike model from the 1970s, simply look down at the feet of your favorite tour guide, Toby Atkins. Chances are he will be wearing a pair. 

What lies Beneath

Well, the University of Oregon recruiting pitch has gotten even better. Underneath the concourse lies even more state of the art design geared towards athlete performance. For the work portion, there is an indoor track with a 140 meter straightaway made from the same material as the outdoor track. The field events are not left behind either as jumpers and throwers have practice areas, too.  Once the workout is done, athletes have access to hydrotherapy room, treatment and rehab area, anti-gravity treadmill room. There is also a weight and video room.

Check our the video below to see these incredible facilities:

At Bucket List Events, we love track and field. Check out our blog for more track and field content.

Comments Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply