With more than 300 workers on the job site a week, the new track and field stadium set to host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials and the 2021 World Track & Field Championships is starting to take shape since its unveiling on the University of Oregon campus in April 2018.
On Wednesday, The Register-Guard got a chance to step inside the construction zone for an early look at the evolving Hayward Field.
Here are some key takeaways from our time inside the new Hayward Field:
You’ll feel close to athletes
From a distance, the new Hayward Field appears massive with the recently constructed horseshoe shape of the structure dominating the field of view on the southeast side of campus. But inside the bowl of the stadium, it does not feel as intimidating. It is easy to see how it will have a buzzing feel when packed with upward of 30,000 people, especially when the old Hayward held only about 8,500.
Despite the jawlike beams surrounding the stadium, the layout of the seating areas and the open-air feel of the stadium make it so you don’t feel swallowed up in the architecture. The new stadium will have spectator areas immediately alongside the track, bringing fans closer to the events as they happen.
Spectators are key players
A lot of resources are being tailored to spectators in the new Hayward. For watching competitions, there will be three private suites, three concession stands and a track-level VIP area. All of 15th Street on the north side of the stadium is being turned into a plaza exclusively for pedestrian use.
The continuous bowl of the stadium also is designed for the best acoustics that will project the sound of the crowd back toward the athletes, according to lead designer Todd Van Horne.
“So there are no dead zones for those athletes, they’re always feeling the energy of the crowd and the enthusiasm,” he said.
There still will be ways for the local community to use the stadium, said Oregon track and field head coach Robert Johnson. In the past, community practices have been held at Hayward, and that will not change. He also noted that the observation deck being built at the top of the tower near the entrance will be open to the public.
Van Horne did not know if the new facilities would mean an increase to ticket prices for fans: “All I know is that that interest has gone almost more than double from Olympic trials from previous times. So there’s a lot of excitement, a lot of interest. And I think even season-ticket sales for the University of Oregon are up.”
On time, on budget
The plan as it stands is to have the new Hayward wrapped and open for the Pac-12 Championships in May 2020. The project is on time, Van Horne said.
“The schedule is aggressive, they’re super excited,” Van Horne said of those working on the site.
But as with any construction project, there are variables that could set it back.
“Cross your fingers for good weather,” Van Horne said after being asked whether he was confident the stadium will be ready for the Pac-12 meet. “But that’s what we’re really shooting for, and everybody’s confident at this point.”
The project, which has a cost of about $195 million, is on budget, Van Horne said. He has been told they are on budget.
Old Hayward is not gone
Those looking to take a break from the action in between events can walk down memory lane in the new Hayward Hall, which will hold all of the track program’s trophies from years past and some historical information about the field.
The university salvaged materials from the previous Hayward Field and is working with community members to create a public process for distributing these pieces. However, the materials will not be for sale.
Johnson said there “absolutely” will be pieces of the old Hayward incorporated into the new one, but he was not ready to give up the details.
“I won’t quite give away that secret yet,” he said, “but I’m blown away by it and I’m sure you all will be as well.”