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'It's not just lumber and nails and places to sit, it's home for these talented athletes'

Community discussions surrounding the East Grandstand at Hayward Field continue, following the Prefontaine Classic, which was held over Memorial Day weekend. (KMTR image)

EUGENE, Ore. - Community members gathered on the University of Oregon campus Thursday night to discuss why preserving Hayward Field and its east grandstand is important to them, and how they hope to continue its legacy.

The University of Oregon is getting ready to clear the way for a new stadium at Hayward Field.

The clearing means the demolition of the historic east grandstand, but not everyone is happy about that decision.

The "East Grandstand Supporters" met at Agate Hall on campus for their first community meeting.

The group said it's not trying to stop the renovation of Hayward Field, but feels that all the stated design goals can be achieved with the preservation of the east grandstand.

Group spokesperson Bob Penny said he drove seven hours down from Washington state to attend the meeting Thursday, a meeting he said was meant to inform the public on the current situation and give the public a chance to discuss ways to keep the demolition of the stands from happening, if possible.

"People were really, really hoping that, can't we just stop this process for a moment?" asked Penny. "Can we really have a real discussion? Can we decide, why is this happening this way?"

People filled Room 101 of Agate Hall to share their fond memories of Hayward Field, discuss its historic importance, and share how Hayward Field has impacted them personally.

For Neta Prefontaine, Hayward Field holds a special place in her heart. She reminisced on the times she used to watch her brother, former Oregon long-distance runner and Olympic athlete Steve Prefontaine, race at the track.

"Every meet I hugged him after he won. It has an emotional feel for me," said Prefontaine. "It's like, the people are more important to me than anybody. The people that come there are important, because without them we wouldn't have these meets...we wouldn't have these athletes."

The Hayward Field renovation plans include increasing seating capacity to 30,000 in preparation for the 2021 World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

According to the University of Oregon website, construction is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed by 2020.

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