100 Years of Magic on the Track at Hayward Field

The former cow pasture has seen more than a few G.O.A.T.s in its time, and it’s just warming up.

by Damian foley

Long before the corner of 15th Avenue and Agate Street became home to grandstands and global broadcasts, there were cows.

In the early 1900s, what would become the nation’s preeminent track and field facility was simply a humble pasture, where the University of Oregon kept cattle in order to provide milk for students in dormitories.

But the UO also needed somewhere for its athletes to compete. In 1919, the cows were replaced with pigskin as the paddock was converted into a football field for the Webfoots and named Hayward Field after Bill Hayward, the school’s athletic trainer and track and field coach.

Two years later, in 1921, a six-lane cinder track was laid down around the outside of the field. The rest is history—glorious, record-breaking history since known as Hayward Magic.

Now, the re-imagined stadium and all its magic inspires us all to look to the future, to write and re-write record books, to redefine excellence in track and field.  

“What I like the most is how the design reminds you of all the people who have come before you, from the tower with medalists to school record holders around the stadium. It’s really inspiring.”
Carmela Cardama Baez, BA ’20 (psychology), Vigo, Spain

Experience Hayward Field

Take a video tour of the world-class home of UO Track and Field

 

 


The Tower

Standing 10 stories tall, the tower at Hayward Field depicts five icons who have helped define Oregon’s track and field legacy: legendary coach and innovator Bill Bowerman, distance running icon Steve Prefontaine, six-time national champion Raevyn Rogers, two-time decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, and Otis Davis, the UO’s first Olympic gold medalist.


“The tower is an incredible showcase of our program’s history. It’s something the community and our student-athletes can be proud of.” 

– Robert Johnson, 14-time NCAA championship Oregon head coach


The tower features a lobby filled with interpretive exhibits, an observation deck, viewing areas, and an elevator and staircase to the top. It flares upward to resemble an Olympic torch, and is already a campus landmark with a lasting visual elegance.

The Five UO Track and Field Icons Featured on the Tower:

About the Tower

 

hayward tower 

The Tower

Standing 10 stories tall, the tower at Hayward Field depicts five icons who have helped define Oregon’s track and field legacy: legendary coach and innovator Bill Bowerman, distance running icon Steve Prefontaine, six-time national champion Raevyn Rogers, two-time decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, and Otis Davis, the UO’s first Olympic gold medalist.

“The tower is an incredible showcase of our program’s history. It’s something the community and our student-athletes can be proud of.” – Robert Johnson, 14-time NCAA championship Oregon head coach

The tower features a lobby filled with interpretive exhibits, an observation deck, viewing areas, and an elevator and staircase to the top. It flares upward to resemble an Olympic torch, and is already a campus landmark with a lasting visual elegance.

The Five UO Track and Field Icons Featured on the Tower:

About the Tower

“It’s unbelievable. I can’t imagine the types of performances we’ll see in the future.”
Andrew Wheating, BA ’10 (sociology)
 

The History of Hayward Field

Twenty records have been set or broken at Hayward Field, and the decathlon world record—crowning ‘the world’s greatest athlete’—has been broken more often at Hayward Field than at any other venue.

But just as records are made to be broken, so too do the venues themselves change. The paddock had a creek that needed to be filled in before it could be converted into an athletic venue. The football and track teams shared Hayward Field until 1967. In 1970, the cinder track was replaced by an all-weather surface, and six lanes became eight. In 1975, the west grandstand was completely rebuilt. In 1988, the track itself was converted from 440 yards to 400 meters, and the entire east grandstand was moved 36 feet closer to the Law School.

While the look of Hayward Field may have evolved over the years, the feel never has. The stadium is home to some of the sport’s most knowledgeable fans, who break attendance records and turn the “theater for track and field” into a thunderous cauldron of noise to support the world’s best track and field athletes—and that’s just as true for the last 100 years as it will be for the next century. 

The stadium is the only site to host four consecutive US Olympic Trials (2008–2021), and it has helped place Eugene at the center of the running universe. “Track Town” draws athletes from around the world to train, compete and experience Hayward Field.

hayward ticket 
This ticket to a 1921 Track and Field Meet at Hayward Field is among a curated collection of items included in the UO Library exhibit, "Oregon Spirit: The Legacy of Track and Field."

Hayward Welcomes UO's First Olympic Gold Medalist:


Otis Davis returned to Eugene for a tour of the renovated Hayward Field.

 


steve prefontaine

The History of Hayward Field

Twenty records have been set or broken at Hayward Field, and the decathlon world record—crowning ‘the world’s greatest athlete’—has been broken more often at Hayward Field than at any other venue.

But just as records are made to be broken, so too do the venues themselves change. The paddock had a creek that needed to be filled in before it could be converted into an athletic venue. The football and track teams shared Hayward Field until 1967. In 1970, the cinder track was replaced by an all-weather surface, and six lanes became eight. In 1975, the west grandstand was completely rebuilt. In 1988, the track itself was converted from 440 yards to 400 meters, and the entire east grandstand was moved 36 feet closer to the Law School.

While the look of Hayward Field may have evolved over the years, the feel never has. The stadium is home to some of the sport’s most knowledgeable fans, who break attendance records and turn the “theater for track and field” into a thunderous cauldron of noise to support the world’s best track and field athletes—and that’s just as true for the last 100 years as it will be for the next century. 

The stadium is the only site to host four consecutive US Olympic Trials (2008–2021), and it has helped place Eugene at the center of the running universe. “Track Town” draws athletes from around the world to train, compete and experience Hayward Field.

hayward ticket 
This ticket to a 1921 Track and Field Meet at Hayward Field is among a curated collection of items included in the UO Library exhibit, "Oregon Spirit: The Legacy of Track and Field."

Hayward Welcomes UO's First Olympic Gold Medalist:


Otis Davis returned to Eugene for a tour of the renovated Hayward Field.
“It's like a mixture between the Bird's Nest and the Rose Bowl. It's awesome.”
Devon Allen, BS ’17 (business administration)

Hayward Field's Legacy:

20
world records broken
6
olympic trials held
15
ncaa outdoor championships held

Named for Bill Hayward, the “Grand Old Man” who coached Oregon track and field from 1904 until 1947, Hayward Field has been home to the UO track and field program since 1921, and has been the scene of some of the sport’s most memorable performances.

In 1982, Mary Decker broke the women’s 5,000-meter record at the Prefontaine Classic in June, then returned one month later and broke the women’s 10,000-meter record at an Oregon Track Club all-comer’s meet. At the 2011 Pre Classic, Moses Mosop broke two men’s world records in one race. The decathlon world record has been broken more often at Hayward than at any other facility in the world—including, in 2012, by Ashton Eaton.

bill hayward

Track coach Bill Hayward standing in front of the bleachers at Hayward Field in 1926.

 

raevyn rogers

Raevyn Rogers won the 800 meters at the 2015, 2016, and 2017 NCAA Championships.

 

bowerman statue

The statue of legendary coach Bill Bowerman stands in the northeast corner of the renovated Hayward Field.

The History of Hayward

 

 

UO Track and Field Team Gets Its First Look at Hayward Magic

After two years away from their home facility, the Ducks returned
to Hayward Field at the University of Oregon for a first look
at their new, re-imagined home.


“I think the coolest part is how they’ve integrated so much history into it. I see teammates from five years back and I just think ‘wow.' Competing at Hayward Field is a different feeling than competing anywhere else.”

– Ben Milligan, BA '20, Portland, OR


 

UO Track Team Returns to Hayward Field



 

ben milligan

UO Track and Field Team Gets Its First Look at Hayward Magic

After two years away from their home facility, the Ducks returned to Hayward Field at the University of Oregon for a first look at their new, re-imagined home.

“I think the coolest part is how they’ve integrated so much history into it. I see teammates from five years back and I just think ‘wow.' Competing at Hayward Field is a different feeling than competing anywhere else.” – Ben Milligan, BA '20, Portland, OR

UO Track Team Returns to Hayward Field

“Some of the greatest moments I’ve been part of at the stadium I’m not sure anyone could hear what I was saying on the microphone. That’s the beauty of Hayward Field. I have a role to play, the athletes have a much more important role to play, but the fans are what will bring the energy and the Hayward Magic.”
Paul Swangard, BA '90 (radio and television), MBA '99 (general business)

Hayward Field Has:

12K
permanent seats
25K
expandable seats
200K
square feet of total running surfaces

Use of Salvage Materials

Many items salvaged from Historic Hayward Field were incorporated into the new facility showcasing the rich heritage of the original stadium through graphics and signage as well as exhibits in Hayward Hall. The University of Oregon made a collection of remaining salvaged materials available to benefit the community. An advisory committee comprised of campus and community stakeholders reviewed a variety of proposals and approved 18 projects.

hayward mural

Salvaged materials used to create a portrait of track legend Jesse Owens for the 20x21EUG Mural Project.

 

marathon medal

The 2021 Eugene Marathon Medals are crafted from the salvaged east grandstand steps.

 

door in hayward

The exit stairs within Hayward Field are marked by numbers salvaged from the track.

Explore the Salvage Material Projects

 

 

What's on the Horizon

As part of its highly anticipated outdoor schedule, the Oregon track and field team has already hosted three meets at the newly reimagined Hayward Field. Other upcoming 2021 events at Hayward Field include: 

• June 9-12 – NCAA Championships
• June 18-27 – Olympic Trials
• August 21 – Nike Prefontaine Classic
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athletes return to hayward

What's on the Horizon

As part of its highly anticipated outdoor schedule, the Oregon track and field team has already hosted three meets at the newly reimagined Hayward Field. Other upcoming 2021 events at Hayward Field include: 

• June 9-12 – NCAA Championships
• June 18-27 – Olympic Trials
• August 21 – Nike Prefontaine Classic

“Seeing the student-athletes competing at Hayward Field again is a special moment for this program. This has been a long time coming and we are incredibly thankful to everyone involved in getting us to this point.”
Robert Johnson, 14-time NCAA champion Oregon head coach