'Don't waste the gift is what Pre would say. I'm not sure what the gift is here'


    Crews are demolishing the East Grandstand to make way for the new renovations. (SBG)

    EUGENE, Ore. - The creak and crack of wood echoed through the University of Oregon campus Friday as a piece of track and field history came down.

    Over the years, spectators have sat, stood and screamed for Steve Prefontaine, Bruce Jenner, Ashton Eaton and other track stars from the venerable East Grandstand at Hayward Field, built in 1925.

    The home of Oregon track, Hayward also hosted 6 Olympic trials.

    The East Grandstand is no more. (SBG)

    Now it is gone.

    Crews are demolishing the East Grandstand to make way for the new renovations. (SBG)

    "This is the Parthenon of track and field; Eugene is the center of track and field," Walt Hunt said as he watched the demolition, "so it's hard for us to see this go away."

    Les Castle offered another perspective as excavators chewed through the wooden grandstand.

    "I mean the structure, these things they come and go," he said. "Sometimes you've got to accept it."

    The demolition started around 7 a.m.

    "They are right on track with where they wanted to be in terms of all those pre-construction activities," said Tobin Klinger, a university spokesperson.

    Klinger said it will take several weeks to tear down all the grandstands at Hayward to make way for a new multi-million dollar track center.

    The University of Oregon says work will begin in June on a renovation of Hayward Field, to be completed in 2020. The plans include a 165-foot, 9-story tower named in honor of Bill Bowerman, the coach who brought Steve Prefontaine to campus and helped Phil Knight launch Nike. The work will be funded by Penny and Phil Knight and more than 50 other donors. (Courtesy UO)

    "There's a very tight time line, so we're looking at about a 22 month project in order to get things up and running," he said.

    For John Postalwait and three running companions, the emotions were definitely mixed.

    "Don't waste the gift is what Pre would say," he said, "but I'm not sure what the gift is here."

    Castle suggested taking a longer view of history.

    "In 50 years, the new one will be the old one," he said, "and when they want to get rid of it everybody will say, 'Oh it's our history'."

    The unversity wants to new facility finished by early 2020, ahead of the 2021 IAAF World Championships.

    The project is largely funded by Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who launched his shoe empire with legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman in 1964.

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