Hayward Field’s Grand Reopening, And a Ton of NCAA Stars Racing
When the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field reopened on Friday with the Hayward Premiere meet, 1,028 days will had passed since it last hosted a track meet.
Back then, on June 9, 2018, the marathon world record was 2:02:57, the Nike Oregon Project still existed, Donald Trump had zero impeachments, and we were still 18 months away from learning the word “coronavirus.” It has been a minute.
With an estimated cost of $270 million, “new” Hayward is easily the most expensive track & field-specific facility ever built in the United States and immediately becomes the center of the American track & field universe: over the next 16 months, the stadium will host two NCAA championships, the US Olympic Trials, and the 2022 World Championships. Based on everything we’ve seen, it should be a fitting home (if you haven’t already, check out the Hayward Field website, which has tons of info and cool photos of the rebuild).
On Friday, track is finally back in Eugene. And it should be quite a meet. Some of the country’s top distance programs — BYU, Arkansas, Iowa State — are sending athletes to compete at the Hayward Premiere, and of course the host Ducks will be racing some stars of their own. Between Oregon’s Cole Hocker, BYU’s Courtney Wayment and Conner Mantz, and Iowa State’s Wesley Kiptoo and Edwin Kurgat, no less than five NCAA individual champions will get to test out the new track.
The Hayward Premiere is the first of four regular-season home meets at Hayward in 2021, followed by the West Coast Classic (April 17), Oregon Relays (April 23-24), and Oregon Twilight (May 7) before the stadium hosts NCAAs (June 9-12), the Olympic Trials (June 18-27), and Prefontaine Classic (August 21).
Meet details and preview below.
How does the new stadium look? And is it fast?To say we at LetsRun.com are excited about the new Hayward Field is an understatement. There was no better place in America to watch a track meet than the old stadium, and while we are firm believers that not every single big meet should be in Eugene, it was distinctly weird not having any meets there the past two years. The new stadium may lack the character of “historic” Hayward Field, but from the wooden roof beams to the Bowerman Tower, it already sports an iconic look. After sitting empty for months — outside of UO practices — it will be great to see Hayward Field doing what it was built for: hosting meets.
And the good news is that some fans and media will be there in person. Under Oregon’s current athletics guidelines, a limited number of family and guests of coaches and athletes are allowed at the meet. Obviously, it would have been nice to open up the new Hayward with a full house, but this is better than totally empty stands. And the fact that Oregon got permission from the state and county to host four regular-season meets with spectators is a step in the right direction toward an Olympic Trials with fans (how many will be allowed in June remains to be seen).
As for the second question — is the new track fast? — we assume the answer has to be yes if they spent $200+ million on it and we imagine we’ll find out this soon. While this will be the outdoor opener for the athletes, the story of Covid-19 and the super spike ear is that no one seems to wait to run fast anymore. People want to get fast marks up ASAP in case of a Covid-19 delay.
The weather looks decent (high of 61 in Eugene on Friday, 64 on Saturday, and no rain) and the fields are full of quality so it will be interesting to see what type of marks are put up.
And will the infamous headwind still blow on the backstraight?
posted Saturday April 3rd
by Let’s Run