Within the beloved sport of observe and field, the College of Oregon’s Hayward Field is a hallowed floor. Relationship again greater than 100 years, the stadium in Eugene has been a perennial host of NCAA championships, world skilled championships, and U.S. Olympic observe workforce trials, together with these forward of the 2020 Summer time Olympics in Tokyo. Two dozen of the college’s observe and field athletes have gone on to win Olympic medals.
So when the college got down to redesign the stadium, it aimed to construct a world-class dwelling for the game. After greater than three years of building and $200 million spent, the brand new stadium opened earlier this 12 months as one of the vital superior venues on this planet devoted particularly to trace and field.
The renovation was absolutely funded by donors, together with billionaire Phil Knight and his spouse, Penny. Knight, as soon as a College of Oregon observe athlete, teamed up along with his former coach, Invoice Bowerman, in 1964 to cofound Blue Ribbon Sports activities (later rebranded as Nike). Portland-based SRG Partnership, the structure agency behind the design, was tasked with delivering a stadium that pushed the idea of what a observe and field venue could possibly be.
“The consumer stated if the cost right here is to construct the world’s most interesting observe and field facility, the place you begin is to go go to the world’s most interesting observe and field amenities,” says Jeff Yrazabal, principal at SRG Partnership. Virtually all of those are situated in Europe. So on a whirlwind six-day journey, the architects visited 12 stadiums in 9 international locations, testing out seats and views, strolling tracks, and studying from track-meet administrators about how occasion days unfold.
On high of this analysis journey, the designers acquired enter from the college, Nike, and an entire raft of athletes, coaches, nutritionists, sports activities physiologists, and broadcasters again in Oregon.
One of many greatest classes they realized was to prioritize proximity for spectators. Seats on the new Hayward Field are positioned as near the motion as attainable. Entrance-row seats are on the identical stage because the observe, and inside a couple of yard of the skin operating lane. Marquesa Figueroa, one of many architects who labored on the venture, attended a observe occasion shortly after the stadium opened and says the expertise was palpable. “It was superb to be that near the athletes. Listening to them breathe, like that first breath as they’re getting out of the beginning blocks, that was particular,” she says. “We wished the spectators to have that intimacy.”
The brand new stadium’s distinctive structure options its 12,600 seats wrapping across the observe asymmetrically, concentrating most of them on the end line. “There’s a purposeful motive to construct vitality and have extra of the gang on the end line, nevertheless it additionally offers you that sense of motion and pace circling the observe,” Yrazabal says.
Realizing, nonetheless, that observe and field occasions additionally embody relays, long-distance races, and a wide range of leaping and throwing competitions, the designers ensured that spectators at each occasion would have entry to prime views. “Track and field has the most important competitors floor of any sport,” says Aaron Pleskac, principal at SRG Partnership. “Would you fairly watch the athlete throw [a javelin or discus], or the place it lands? Pole vault occurs within the center. Some races begin on the three-quarter mark as a substitute of simply operating one lap. The stadium is a theater.”
The stadium additionally capabilities exterior of competitions, with labs designated for the college’s sports activities physiology researchers to watch athletes, in addition to areas in and out that can be utilized for workforce coaching and train. The observe stage of the constructing inside has a 140-meter dash observe, and the first hall wrapping the stadium is lined and measured to be used as an additional jogging observe. “Each inch of it may be used as a coaching facility, so no extra having to schedule time or share amenities with different sports activities,” says SRG architect Whitney Ranson. “Something that can be utilized as a coaching device is used as a coaching device.”
For all its behind-the-scenes options and training-specific parts, the stadium is usually supposed to be a high-profile dwelling for the game. The designers hope the structure helps, however in addition they know that on this historic web site with such deep roots in observe and field, it’s the spectators who will play the most important position in making the brand new Hayward Field a hit.
“The fan base on this a part of the nation is aware of observe and field at a deeper stage than wherever else on this planet,” Yrazabal says. “They know the tempo of a race, they know what a world-record throw appears to be like like. So that creates quite a lot of vitality within the house above any architectural transfer.”