USA: World Athletics Championships to kick off in Eugene

source:; author: Rafał Dadura

USA: World Athletics Championships to kick off in Eugene The 18th World Athletics Championships are held from 15 to 24 July in Eugene, Oregon, USA, in the smallest stadium in its history. We’re talking about Hayward Field with a capacity of only 12,650 spectators.


A small stadium in not the biggest city

The event, which has been held every two years since 1983, has graced venues as illustrious as Rome's Stadio Olimpico, Stade de France near Paris, and Beijing's 'Bird's Nest' from the 2008 Olympic Games. There have also been editions held in less spectacular stadiums such as the Ullevi in Göteborg or the Yanmar Nagai Stadium in Osaka.

This time, the world's best athletes will compete in, one might say, a “tiny” stadium, especially compared to some of its predecessors or giant venues in the US that can easily welcome tens of thousands of people! 12 500 spectators is a capacity that would put Hayward Field outside the top-capacity stadiums in most developed countries. Besides, Eugene, Oregon, is not New York City, Los Angeles or any other metropolis more suited to host a world-class event. So why did the World Athletics Championships wander there?

Hayward Field© Chris Schiemann (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A great story

Because Eugene has something that no other city in the US has. Its fully deserved status as the Mecca of American athletics. This is because of Hayward Field stadium and the city's residents, who make Eugene widely known in the world of American sport as "Track Town". It was here that jogging took hold in the USA, making the locals here literally crazy about running! There are plenty of special running trails scattered throughout the city of around 176,000 inhabitants. 

It is also here that Nike was founded in 1964 by Oregon athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman. The latter coached a total of 31 US Olympians and still holds the status of the father-like figure of American athletics. In 2000, a statue of him was unveiled at the stadium.

Hayward Field© Chris Schiemann (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A legend enshrined in bold, lightweight form

Inaugurated in 1919 and in use until 2018, the old Hayward Field was a modest 10,500-seat stadium with two roof-covered stands. Its successor, the new Hayward Field, which hosts the current event, is a modern venue with an interesting form. The most striking feature of it is the tower, designed to relate to the Olympic cauldron, located in the north-east corner of the venue. Its façade is covered with perforated metal panels with images of the most prominent figures who have been associated with the site.

The roof covering only the upper parts of the auditorium is also a treat for the eyes. Its structure is supported by 76 wooden arches, combined with a steel skeleton. The entire structure is covered with a light-transmitting, copolymer (ETFE) material. The irregular, oval form of the stadium gives the whole venue an open and light feel.

Hayward Field© Rick Obst (CC BY 2.0)