'Hayward Field will be nothing less than the finest track and field facility in the world'

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)

EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Oregon unveiled plans on Tuesday to renovate the Historic Hayward Field on the Oregon campus, which is slated to open in 2020.

In a press release, the University of Oregon said that the new Hayward Field "will set a new standard for sports venues, create world-class training and competition facilities for student athletes, and incorporate new laboratories and research facilities to better understand the potential of human performance."

GALLERY | Artist renderings show vision for Hayward Field

The project is funded entirely by private donations, led by Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, and his wife Penny.

Construction on the renovations will start in June of 2018, and it is expected to be completed in time for the 2021 IAAF Track and Field World Championships, which is currently slated to be held in Eugene for the first time ever.

Capacity at the stadium is expected to increase from 10,500 seats to 12,900, but that number can be expanded to nearly 30,000 when needed. The designers of the new arena have set out to create a "theater" for track and field, creating unobstructed sight lines, great acoustics and a proximity of spectators to athletes, creating an intimate experience.

In the northeast corner of the stadium, a 165-foot tall, nine-story tower, known as the Bowerman Tower, will stand as the cornerstone of the area, surrounded by a pool of water. It will feature a lobby filled with interpretive exhibits, an observation deck, viewing areas and a training staircase to the top.

The shape of the tower is made to resemble an Olympic Torch, which is a nod to Bill Bowerman, who coached the "Men of Oregon" to 4 NCAA team crowns in his 24 years as a track and field coach at Oregon. Bowerman also trained 31 Olympic athletes, and was a co-founder of Nike who is credited with the invention of the 'Waffle-Racer' shoe design.

Though there is to be a lot of buzz and excitement over the release of the new track and field stadium, several fans and locals alike have expressed significant disapproval over the renovation of Hayward Field.

The Historic Hayward Field, which opening as a football stadium in 1919, has hosted both the most NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships (15), and the most U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials (6) in the nation. It has also seen a record 20 world records broken, as well as the highest national single-day attendance record (22,944) at the 2016 Olympic Trials.

Most notably, University of Oregon legend and track and field icon Steve Prefontaine to this day continues to be a legend at Hayward Field. After competing at the University of Oregon from 1970-73, Prefontaine tragically died in a car accident in Eugene following a meet that was held at Hayward Field in 1975.

The Prefontaine Classic is held at Hayward Field every May in remembrance.

Still, the University of Oregon plans to go ahead with the renovations. In the press release from the University, President Michael H. Schill stated his approval:

When complete, Hayward Field will be nothing less than the finest track and field facility in the world, emblematic of the risk takers and innovators who have made Oregon great. The new design for Hayward Field is awe-inspiring, amazing, and completely in accord with the university’s relentless pursuit of excellence in everything that we do.

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