After two years of delays, the University of Oregon finally unveiled its plans for the new Hayward Field on Tuesday.
Historic Hayward Field will be demolished beginning this summer and replaced by a new stadium slated to open in 2020.
“We really wanted to build the best track and field facility in the world,” UO president Michael Schill told the Emerald. “I think they’ve been able to design that.”
The final project costs hasn’t been announced yet, but it will be fully funded by Phil and Penny Knight along with 50 other private donors.
The stadium’s permanent capacity will be 12,900, slightly larger than the 10,500 fans it currently holds. Temporary seating will allow Hayward to expand to hold 30,000 fans for the world championships in 2021.
Demolishing Hayward’s historic east grandstand is a controversial move. UO’s original plan was to renovate and preserve the east grandstand, which opened in 1919. But, citing issues such as a dry-rot with the old structure, the school revised plans and will build an entirely new stadium.
In a speech at the unveiling ceremony, Schill said he understands some will have mixed feelings about losing the east grandstand, but Oregon’s track and field legacy “isn’t made of wood and metal.”
Former Oregon and U.S. national team track coach Vin Lananna agreed that while the original Hayward will be missed, its legacy will live on.
“It’s really not the structure. It’s the people, the energy, the acoustics, the experience that make Hayward special,” Lananna told the Emerald. “When you think of Bill Bowerman, he was all about the future. And I have goosebumps looking at those renderings.”
The new Hayward Field project will include the 9-story Bowerman Tower, which is meant to symbolize the Olympic torch. An observation deck at the top of the tower will allow for panoramic views of the stadium and campus.
Head track and field coach Robert Johnson said the project has been a long time coming, and he’s excited for the opportunities it will provide for athletes.
“It’s above and beyond my expectations,” Johnson said.
Full plans and renderings for the project are available here.
Follow Jack Pitcher on Twitter @jackpitcher20 .