Track Town, USA. The words bring to mind a few things: Eugene, the Ducks, Steve Prefontaine and lastly but most importantly, Hayward Field. Fans, athletes and coaches all over the world know about Hayward Field. Athletes and coaches love to compete there because of the knowledgeable and loud fans who roar approval for every athlete who passes through the gates.
Construction for Hayward Field as a football field started in 1919. In 1921 a six-lane cinder track was added, kicking off a full schedule of track and field events, the variety of which grew as time passed and Hayward Field expanded. The Duck football team played at Hayward Field until 1967 when the program moved to newly constructed Autzen Stadium.
The biggest change to the field happened just before the 1988 NCAA Championships with a two-year renovation project. The track was converted from 440 yards to a 400-meter oval with 85-meter straightaways. Because of the change, the east grandstands were moved back about 11 meters.
To walk into Hayward Field now, you pass through Powell Plaza. While it may seem like it’s always been there, the Plaza was only unveiled in 2005 to welcome fans to the historic field. Named after Lloyd Powell, a teammate and friend of Coach Bill Dillenger, it details the history of Oregon track and field.
Smaller renovations include the addition of a fully lit 400-meter all-weather track in 2005, a complete renovation of the indoor practice area under the west grandstands in 2006 and the addition of a permanent lighting system for distance runners.
Hayward Field has been the setting for some of the world’s best track and field competitions. It holds records for hosting the most Olympic Trials, as well as countless others. A follow-up to this article will tell more about our beautiful and historic Hayward Field.
All pictures courtesy of the University of Oregon Libraries.