The wheels have been set in motion for the demolition of Hayward Field and the construction of a new facility, but historic Hayward Field and East Grandstand supporters are still trying to stop it — including a protester who was arrested after running around the track wearing a “Save Hayward” T-shirt.
Construction of Hayward Field is slated to begin June 19, according to the UO’s “Around the O” news website, but workers were spotted taking up wooden boards from Hayward’s East Grandstand on Monday, June 11, to begin the “inventory process, site preparation and some preliminary salvage work this week,” the site said.
As it stands now, Hayward hosted its final NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship last week, June 6-9.
On Friday, June 8, local videographer Tim Lewis ran onto Hayward’s track during the meet, wearing a T-shirt that said “Save Hayward” and holding up another that said “Pre Lives For Now.”
The back of the “Save Hayward” shirt Lewis was wearing said, “Hallowed Grounds.”
Lewis was at the championship meet as a spectator. “I had tickets. I didn’t just bust in,” he says. He had made the T-shirts beforehand, he says, but wasn’t fully sure what he wanted to do.
Lewis says he grew up watching Steve Prefontaine run at Hayward Field. “He was my hero,” he says. Lewis says he also was a distance runner at North Eugene High School who spent a lot of time at Hayward Field himself.
He was sitting in the East Grandstand on Friday, the third day of the NCAA Championship, watching the races. After the 5,000-meter race, which he says was Prefontaine’s favorite, Lewis says, he decided to slip off the East Grandstand and onto the track.
He walked back and forth in front of the grandstand with people in the stands cheering him on.
Then, he says, “I decided, ‘Fuck it. I’m going to run around the track to the finish line.’”
Lewis then ran around the track, continuing to get cheers from onlookers and even ending up on the big screen. He ran into “10 to 15 security people” near the finish line, he says, but dodged around them to get past. He then exited the gates.
There he ran into two UO police officers he describes as “a little pushy.”
Lewis was arrested on the misdemeanor charges of interfering with police, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing at a sporting event. He spent a day in jail before he was released without being given a reason for the release, he says.
Lewis talked to EW in anticipation of his court appearance on Tuesday, June 12. “I’m pleading not guilty and already have an attorney,” he said.
Jim Watson is a volunteer official at Hayward Field. He says he witnessed Lewis’ run around the track and was standing near Vin Lananna, UO’s associate athletic director, when it happened.
“I work at the finish line on the outside of the track,” Watson says. “I saw this guy, Tim [Lewis], running around on the infield with a T-shirt on.”
“He didn’t seem confrontational,” Watson says. “He seemed like he was having a great time. He was enjoying the attention and sending the message. He went by and went out the gate. Nobody bothered him.”
“When I turned back around I saw Vin Lananna and his face was beet red. He got out his phone and started screaming in it,” he says. “It sounded like he said something like, ‘Get that guy.’”
Watson says he couldn’t hear for sure what Lananna said.
“In my opinion, that reaction to arrest him indicates that they’re worried about protests like that,” Watson says. “I think Tim in a way exposed them from doing something playful like that and them overreacting.”
Liz Carter is a part of the East Grandstand Supporters. She was at Hayward Field on Monday, June 11, when workers began dismantling the East Grandstand. The East Grandstand Supporters are talking to attorneys, she says.
Carter says she spoke with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office on Monday morning and confirmed that the UO has not completed the designated process of consultation with the preservation office before beginning construction.
Ian Johnson, associate deputy state historic preservation officer, confirms this, but adds that there are no penalties for not following that process.
“The Oregon Revised Statute 358.653 is a state law without administrative rules,” Johnson says. That law, he says, obligates state agencies and political subdivisions of the state — including UO — to consult with historic preservation in order to avoid any inadvertent impacts to historic properties for which they are responsible.
The UO “is currently in the process of negotiating a memorandum of agreement that states [Hayward Field’s] historic background,” he says.
Though all public entities, including UO, are supposed to comply with that law, there are no “penalties at this time for non-compliance,” the law’s fact sheet states.
Johnson says even though this state law doesn’t hold any penalties, UO still “has to comply with local laws and permits.”
A demolition permit is on file with the city for Hayward Field, so UO is complying with the city.
“Hayward Field and the East Grandstand has a lot of history,” Lewis says. He says Nike founder Phil Knight received a lot of his vision to start Nike from Hayward. “Prefontaine was the first big athlete to wear Nike,” Lewis says.
“You should respect where you came from,” he says. “And Phil Knight isn’t doing that.”
The upcoming demolition and construction of the new facility are “destroying the magic that is Hayward Field,” Lewis says. “There’s not going to be any magic left.”