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ETFE enhances Oregon stadium acoustics, fan experience

Features | April 1, 2023 | By:

The soaring canopy structure, or “bents,” surrounding the stadium are designed to be a connection to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Paired with the light, airy, translucent ETFE canopy roof, the environment enhances acoustics and provides rain protection and shade for the fans below. Photos: Kevin Scott

Envisioned as the “finest track and field facility in the world,” the reimagined Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore., is designed to give University of Oregon’s (UO) student athletes, and athletes from around the world, an unparalleled stage on which to push the limits of what is possible.

The 12,650-seat stadium (expandable to nearly 25,000 seats) provides world-class facilities for the UO’s track and field student-athletes to train, develop and perform at their highest potential. In addition to the athletes’ experience, the fan experience was paramount to the design. The enhanced acoustics of the stadium help build anticipation and amplify the action, creating an immersive sensory experience, says Rick Zieve, principal of SRG Partnership, the architect for the project.  

The ETFE cladding and overhang are designed to enhance the acoustics of the stadium and create a powerful experience for fans and competitors. Every aspect of the 12,650-seat stadium was envisioned to be used by the athletes for training—from the public concourses and ramps to winding vertical stairs climbing the soaring Hayward tower.

“We decided to go with a single layer of ETFE and stretch it taut, so it becomes kind of a diaphanous, simple form that sits on this solid masonry base,” Zieve says of the stadium’s cladding. “It goes from more transparent down lower on the building to more fritted as you move up to the roof, so you get better shading. And ETFE is really a bright acoustical material, so it really helps reinforce and amplify sound. It was loud at Old Hayward, but there wasn’t enough enclosure to really amplify it.” 

The Texlon® ETFE was supplied by Vector Foiltec.

The design of the roof and seating also helps ensure great sightlines for the fans in the stands.

“Track and field has the biggest competition surface of any sport,” says Aaron Pleskac, principal at SRG Partnership. “Would you rather watch the athlete throw [a javelin or discus], or where it lands? Pole vault happens in the middle. Some races start at the three-quarter mark instead of just running one lap. The stadium is a theater.” 

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