dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

Do We Have Sights Worth Seeing?

August 14th, 2022 by dk

That sound you’ve been hearing for the past week or two is a city of 170,000 people scratching its head. The athletes and TV crews gave high marks to Hayward Field and Track Town USA after the World Athletic Championships. Meanwhile, every resident is asking themselves what just happened — if anything happened at all?

We were warned that every restaurant would be jammed for those two weeks. (I did some of that warning myself.) But except for cheapskates going to Track Town Pizza for free souvenir napkins and a handful of high-end eateries, most places reported no perceivable increases. University and private caterers inside the perimeter fed most people.

Saturday Market had less traffic than usual the first week of the meet. They felt a bump the second week, but the county fair deserves more credit than to the 180 nations represented at Hayward Field. Oakridge and Noti can sometimes feel a world away, but the commute to Eugene was tougher for those coming from Oman and Namibia.

In retrospect, we should have expected the athletes to stay inside the Hayward Field bubble. Elite athletes measure every gram they ingest. They’re not going to splurge on Dana’s Cheesecake, no matter how many people rave about it. Same with their support people, who are often retired competitors themselves.

But what about the fans, who traveled from all over to watch their favorite sport? The first lesson for us is that we don’t really have that many sights that are worth seeing. There’s no Big Ben or Eiffel Tower that tells family and friends back home where they are. We love our rivers and our waterfalls, but they fail the branding test for exclusivity.

The closest thing we have to an emerging iconic image that the world recognizes as unique is Hayward Field itself. Other buildings or bridges or natural features are not instantly recognizable, unless you count Pre’s Rock. But that failing can shape our ambitions, taking a page from our recent guests. We can better ourselves in two different ways.

One tack would be to encourage more distinctive buildings and allow them to grow together. Thom Mayne’s architecture started something with the federal courthouse. Several buildings along or near Franklin Boulevard now use metal or glass to reflect our central river back to us. They seem futuristic, but Mayne was reimagining Agripac’s cannery.

We once needed it to keep this valley’s bounty available throughout the year. The cannery served that purpose and met that need. Now we hope to give ourselves and our guests something else that everyone hungers for — meaningful moments and enduring images. Our muralists have given us a good down payment on this account.

This will offend our West Coast sensibilities, but creating a built environment that rewards visitors directly takes centuries. Urban design would be a terrific hobby if we each lived 500 years. But also know this: Eugene’s land mass is exactly the same as Paris’s. (Eugene is about 90 acres larger.)

A second strategy could pay off much sooner. When people try to describe what Eugene offers that they can’t find elsewhere, it always involves our people. Hayward audiences are knowledgeable. Hikers are generous. Saturday Market is stocked with colorful characters. 

Hindsight argues for a more porous perimeter around Hayward. We should have somehow kept the fan festival adjacent to the event, as it was for several Olympic Trials. We allowed a technocrat from London to decide how to showcase Eugene.

We thought we had to protect the competitors from our residents and vice versa. We now know it would have been better if we’d widened the perimeter and invited everyone inside it.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.