By: Mark Wang
Earlier this month, we saw the unveiling to the world of the new Hayward Field. The new crown of Track and Field in the United States. We also did a story on how the change of the track marked a change in US track and field. And while it is awe inspiring, it can be a lot to take in. So we’re going to breakdown some of the jewels of tracks new crown.
One of the most visible symbols of the new Hayward is the tower. At first most people weren’t sure what it was supposed to stand for. Was it a torch, a baton, what the heck was it? It is meant to represent the Olympic torch. At first glance it reminded me of the Olympic torch perched above the Bird Nest Stadium in Beijing (no pun intended). The torch has already been lit three times since it became operational. Once when they tested out the stadium, second to salute healthcare workers, and finally to celebrate the men’s indoor national championship. It also pays tribute to Oregon track luminaries of the past with images of Steve Prefontiane, Bill Bowerman, Otis Davis, and Raevyn Rodgers.
The wooden beams
Back before the renovations to Hayward in 1974, Bill Bowerman said: “Oregon is wood and wood is Oregon.” This quote was thrown around a lot when talking about how wood was important to this new stadium. At first it doesn’t look like there’s a ton of wood. But if you look on the inside of the stadium or even at pictures of the supports being built you see all the wood that is used in the building of the stadium. The wood covered supports literally hold up the roof of the stadium. I remember seeing them putting the wood on all the support beams and noting how important the use of wood was for the project.
The hidden stuff
If you think that the stuff on the outside is nice then wait until you see what’s hidden inside. Inside of the stands you have new and improved training facilities. A 140 meter long running straightaway, pole vault and jumping pits and even a hammer and discus ring. There’s also brand-new locker and equipment rooms, a barber shop, and some unique artwork as far as the eye can see.
Old things given a fresh look (or spot)
One of the things they wanted to do was still preserve the history of Hayward Field while modernizing it. And that they did with two key aspects: the seat proximity to lane 8, and the Bowerman curve/statue.
One of the great features of the old Hayward Field was the proximity of the seats to the track. In the renovation they kept the grandstands close to the track allowing fans to get close to the action and create an intimate setting. For the Bowerman curve, they moved the iconic statue of Bill Bowerman from next to the West Grandstands and moved it next to the tower at the beginning of the Bowerman Curve seamlessly combining a bit of the past with the future.
Hopefully people will be able to see these features for themselves as more fans can get to Hayward with COVID restrictions easing. Seeing this stadium filled with cheering fans will be a sight to behold.