Track & Field

‘Historic’ Hayward Field goes back to the future on countdown to World Champs

One of the most famous venues in world athletics is set for a major facelift next year as Eugene, Oregon gets set to host the 2021 IAAF World Championships.

Hayward Field — which for some unknown reason has been tagged with the try-hard nickname of ‘Historic’ Hayward Field in recent years — is set to undergo renovations which will see its capacity increased to 30,000 as it prepares to host a number of major track and field events over the coming years.

The venue currently holds 10,500 people, but can be increased to 20,000 capacity with temporary seating. With six years until the World Championships come to town, plans are in place to also increase the accommodation shortage in Eugene when it comes to hosting major events.

Shining bright: Hayward Field during the final event of the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships last summer. Image: Cathal Dennehy

Shining bright: Hayward Field during the final event of the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships last summer. Image: Cathal Dennehy

The above artistic rendering of the proposed new venue was unveiled ahead of a committee meeting of the University of Oregon Trustees next week which is likely to enter into a deal with the UO Foundation to manage the project. The above drawing is of the proposed west grandstand, which would replace the current stand — one of the most iconic sites in the sport.

Unsurprisingly given Nike’s involvement with the University, the design was proposed by  Tinker Hatfield, who is behind many of the company’s shoe designs.

“With [his] magnificent design vision, Hayward Field is sure to set a new standard as the home for athletes across the world,” said Vin Lananna, the university’s associate athletic director for Olympic development.

The good news for the nostalgic among us, though, is that the east grandstand is set to be preserved in its current state.

The bulldozers are set to move into place after the US Olympic Trials next summer and the renovations are expected to be completed before the NCCA Championships in June 2017.

Clouded in Controversy

Eugene was awarded the 2021 IAAF World Championships after losing out to Doha, Qatar in the 2019 race, a move than angered many in the sport, who saw the lack of a follow-up bidding process as unfair.

Bjorn Eriksson, the president of the Swedish Athletic Association, said he was “very, very disturbed” by the decision.

European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen was also aggrieved. “The IAAF knew that Gothenburg was a serious candidate for the 2021 World Championships,” he said. “Swedish Athletics and the city had put in a lot of effort over the years to prepare the bidding application but they have not even given the chance to bid for the event.

At the IAAF Congress in Beijing last month, outgoing president Lamine Diack took personal responsibility for the decision before he sailed off into the sunset. “Blame it on an old president on the eve of his departure who wanted to take this opportunity to give this opportunity to the United States,” he said.

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Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy is a freelance journalist, a once-serious, now-retired athlete who writes for a number of international publications in the running industry. He previously worked for the Sunday Tribune, Irish Runner magazine and has written for the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and the Guardian. He is also a regular contributor to Runner's World.
His banter levels are often poor, occasionally exceptional.

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