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Saturday, January 19, 2019

New Home For Prefontaine Classic

by Harry Cummins

     The annual Prefontaine Classic, long a favorite destination for a legion of Oregon track and field fans, is on the move.

      Craw's Corner has learned that a formal announcement regarding the shift from legendary Hayward Field in Eugene will not be made for a few more weeks, but sources close to the situation confirm that the 2019 Pre Classic will be held at Stanford University's Cobb Track and Angell Field on June 30th this year.

     The Prefontaine Classic had been held annually at Hayward Field since 1973 and is now part of the IAAF prestigious series of Diamond League meets contested every year around the world. In recent years, the meet has taken place over two days, but this years meet will be condensed into a single day.  It is the greatest assemblage of world class athletes on U.S. soil.

     Construction is already underway for a new $200 million stadium in Eugene at the site of the old Hayward Field.  The project is now expected to be finished by April next year, and if so,will host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials which determines the team that will compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. There remains a chance that the 2020 Prefontaine Classic will return to Eugene next year as well.

     Prefontaine meet organizers tried unsuccessfully to find an alternate Oregon site to stage the meet this year, considering Oregon State in Corvallis, Lewis and Clark College in Portland, and Lane Community College in Eugene. Costs to upgrade the tracks for a live TV broadcast and temporary seating proved too costly.

      Capacity at Stanford's home track is listed at just 1,772, but temporary bleachers are expected to expand seating to 5,000.  The Prefontaine Classic remains the only IAAF Diamond League meet held in the United States.

     The official announcement regarding the change in venue is expected to come on Feb 5, at a Track Town Tuesday town hall-style gathering at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene.

    By then, many in Oregon's passionate track and field base, will have already booked reservations  600 miles to the South, hoping it is a road trip they will have to make only once.




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