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October’s Prefontaine Classic could be forced to different venue

The Diamond League is set to return to Oregon in October, but Hayward Field might not be open for the event

Hayward Field

On May 12, the Diamond League released its new tentative schedule for the 2020 track season. The revised schedule is set to start on August 14 in Monaco and run until October 17, with a meet in China. If everything goes to plan (which, with the ever-present threat of COVID-19, is far from a sure thing), there will be 11 events in total, one of which is the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., on October 4. In years past, the Prefontaine Classic has been held at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, but in a response to the Diamond League’s announcement, university officials said their track may not be open for business by October.

Prefontaine Classic

In a world without the coronavirus, the Pre Classic would be just over two weeks away, as it was originally set for June 6 and 7. That is, of course, not the reality we’re living, and the event (along with several other Diamond League dates) was first called off and has now been postponed until the fall. The Pre Classic is the only North American stop on the Diamond League calendar, and the 2019 event was held at Stanford University while the University of Oregon rebuilt Hayward Field in preparation for the 2021 (now 2022) World Athletics Championships.

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Hayward Field

The University of Oregon released a statement following the Diamond League’s schedule change, as reported by The Oregonian, which says, “In light of of guidelines issued last week by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and continued efforts to safely reopen the state, we cannot confirm the availability of Hayward Field.” Tom Jordan, meet director of the Pre Classic, said the university was informed of the schedule change early on May 12, just ahead of the public announcement. He told The Oregonian that this was a provisional change, and if the dates don’t work for any of the event cities or venues, they can be changed.

“The whole idea behind October 4 was to be kind of a placeholder because things are changing so dramatically,” he said. “It’s not that October 4 is our steadfast date.” University officials have said the Pre Classic can still be held at Hayward Field in the fall, but that it must be done safely and that the dates have to coincide with the school’s reopening strategy.

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Photos of the new and improved Hayward Field have been released, and it looks magnificent. Whenever it hosts its next track meet—whether that’s in the fall or some time in 2021—it will be quite a nice venue.