Fans at Hayward Field a Treat for NCAAs and Olympic Trials

The excitement level at these two big events in the new venue should be off the charts

Posted on June 2, 2021

  By Steve Ritchie, SuperWest Sports

Fans have been much in the news lately, especially in the NBA. A water bottle was thrown at Kyrie Irving in Boston; popcorn dumped on Russell Westbrook in Philadelphia; the family of Ja Morant was verbally harassed in Utah; and a security guard had to tackle an interloper headed for the court at Monday’s 76er-Wizards game

Wow, calm down NBA fans. The playoffs are just getting started.

Track and field fans should be the ones getting really excited. 

In the last few days, TrackTown USA and the University of Oregon announced that spectators will be able to attend the upcoming Olympic Track & Field Trials  on June 18-27, as well as the NCAA Track & Field Championships on June 9-12, both at the recently unveiled Hayward Field on the UO campus.

The announcement about the NCAA meet noted that a total attendance of 4,400 per day would be allowed at Hayward Field. This is about 35% of capacity, as the re-imagined stadium has 12,650 permanent seats.

There will be a limited number of tickets available for purchase starting on Friday, June 4, according to the release.

The information from TrackTown USA regarding the Olympic Trials did not provide a specific number, but implied that a higher number of spectators might be allowed.

Apparently, all existing ticket holders for the Trials will be able to attend, though seat locations will be revised.

There will also be an opportunity for family members of competing athletes to secure up to four tickets per session on the day(s) their athlete will be competing.

Once those ticket assignments are complete, any remaining tickets will go on sale to the public. No date was given for the possible sale of Trials tickets. 

Even though the stunning new stadium will not be full, you can bet it will be loud. In the intimate setting of Hayward Field, with all its history, the level of excitement at a big event is off the charts.

Rhythmic clapping to help jumpers, a crescendo of cheering near the end of distance races, and appreciative ovations for athletes taking their traditional victory laps.

Hayward Field should be rocking for the Olympic Trials. | University of Oregon

My advice to track and field fans is, if you can somehow get your hands on tickets to either of these meets, get yourself to Eugene.

I’ve been fortunate to attend eight Olympic Trials, and there is little in sports to compare to the drama of athletes trying to reach the dream they have trained years for. Ecstasy and heartbreak wrapped up in one incredible moment.

The NCAA Championships are a little less life or death, of course, but the drama is still palpable as athletes go all out for individual glory, and, even more important, a coveted team national championship.

But for you NBA fans thinking about coming to Hayward, you are reminded by the UO that, “For the safety of the competitors, absolutely no interaction is permitted with student-athletes or coaches while in Oregon Athletic venues.”

And they won’t be selling popcorn.

Pac-12 NCAA Prelims Update

The two top teams in the Pac-12 came through the NCAA Preliminary Rounds mostly unscathed.

usc logoThe USC women qualified 15 athletes and two relay teams for the NCAA Championships in Eugene. The Trojans, led by Tee Tee Terry and Anna Cockrell, are considered to be the team that will pose the strongest challenge to favored LSU. 

The Oregon women are projected eighth by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Ducks qualified nine women and a relay team for the semifinal round next Thursday.

UO’s Carmela Cardama Baez at NCAA West Prelims | Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

On the men’s side, it’s the same two squads in contention, but in reverse order. The Oregon men project as the strongest contender to be heavily favored LSU. The Ducks will bring 14 athletes and a 4 x 100 relay to the NCAAs, and will lean heavily on their middle and long distance runners to pile up points in the 800, 1500, 5000, and steeplechase. 

The Trojan men are ranked third, just behind Oregon by the USTFCCCA. USC qualified 11 men and their 4 x 400 team, and should make a strong push for a spot on the podium. 

NEXT WEEK: Check back for my predictions for NCAA athletes who will win individual titles. I will also be at the meet, highlighting the top events for Pac-12 athletes and keeping close tabs on the team races.

—More from Steve Ritchie—