|5/29/2018 2:00:00 PM|
|Will the new Hayward Field be this intimate? photo by Charlie Kanzig|
By Charlie KanzigA lot of my writing over the years has been centered on track meets held at historic Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene - from Outlaws winning state titles to Ashton Eaton setting the decathlon world record.
No other place has seen more sub-four-minute miles than Hayward Field.
Now with just one meet remaining at the venue before a complete overhaul of the facility, people are wondering if the magic will remain.
Will the change to an ultra-modern, state-of-the-art design, funded largely by Nike co-founder and former Duck runner Phil Knight, change the experience athletes and fans alike have enjoyed for decades into something more sterile?
What will be lost when the creaking, wooden 90-year-old, green and yellow East Grandstands get dismantled, replaced by a design befitting the Jetsons? Will the expanded capacity make the intimacy disappear? Will winners on their victory lap no longer be within reach of the adoring fans reaching their hands over the low railing?
Track and field fans would argue that Hayward Field rivals the history of places like Fenway Park and Madison Square Garden. These are special places that root us in the genealogy of the sports themselves and all of the characters who have left their imprint in our hearts, minds, and imaginations, especially Oregon's own Steve Prefontaine, the legendary distance runner.
Two weeks ago, Jordan Pollard, a Sisters High School senior, streaked down the final 100 meters of the track on his way to winning the 1500-meter title at State. High schoolers will have a much different view when the meet returns to the new Hayward Field in 2020. Hold onto that memory, Jordan!
If you have ever been to a meet at Hayward Field and want to have one final memory of the place in its "historic" form, you have just one more chance, the NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Championships. If you have never been there, I urge you to do so. I got my final dose of the "old" Hayward Field last Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic, a world-class Diamond League meet, that featured some of the world's best athletes, included a grouping of elite milers who pushed the total number of sub-four-minute miles at Hayward Field past the 400 mark.
The NCAA Track and Field Championships are scheduled for Wednesday, June 6 through Saturday, June 9. The schedule begins with men's events on June 6, then alternates by gender the following three days, which means men's finals will be Friday, June 8 and the women's finals will be Saturday, June 9.
Last year a contingent of Sisters fans went on Friday night and had a fantastic experience. Meet information and links for tickets can be found at www.ncaa.com/championships/trackfield-outdoor/d1.
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