Tinker Hatfield, a former University of Oregon pole vaulter and current Nike Vice President, criticized the chosen design for Hayward Field in a recent email he shared with the Oregonian.
Hatfield submitted his own plan during the design process, which would have modernized the East Grandstands, but the university chose a different, horseshoe design.
In the email, he writes the glass roof of the adopted design is non-functional, saying it offers the audience little protection from the rain, and attendance could drop because of it.
"The magic of Hayward Field is really the crowd,” Tinker Hatfield says in the email. “Keep 'em dry and they will come. Let 'em get wet and they will not come. "
University of Oregon students have mixed feelings about a damper experience at Hayward.
“I'm a big track fan and this is obviously Track Town U.S.A.” said freshmen Nora Kearns. “People here really love their runners and love their track meets, so I don't know if it would impact turnouts to events significantly but I think it might, I guess.”
Hatfield says the new design won't just hurt the fans, but also the athletes. He says while the design is beautiful, it would create swirling winds in the stadium, causing problems for runners.
"Hopefully they'll listen, and maybe it can have an impact, you know,” said Peter Wolff, who was visiting Hayward Field. “Maybe people will get behind them and there will be some compromise and they'll end of with a better product. That's certainly happened before with other sports facilities.”
KEZI reached out to the university for comment.
“Tinker Hatfield is a committed duck and an incredibly valued member of the UO community,” a university spokesman said in an email. “The university is extremely grateful for all he does for his alma mater. The new Hayward Field will be an amazing addition to campus, setting a new standard for sports venues, creating world-class training and competition facilities for student-athletes, and serving as a visible symbol of the UO’s relentless pursuit of excellence in everything that we do.”
The renovations to Hayward Field are being privately funded, spearheaded by Phil and Penny Knight. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and will wrap up in 2020.