Oregon is known for its many beautiful seasons. When fall comes, the leaves start to turn, the days are still warm and the nights are cool. We call it Indian summer; this is a trademark season for Oregon. It's also a beautiful time for college football fans. This time of year, Oregonians look forward to Saturdays at Autzen Stadium. From barbecuing to tailgating, you see it all at this 33-year-old stadium. It holds 41,698 screaming fans. The stadium has a trademark of being the loudest and toughest place to play in the Pac-10. Let's take it back to when it all started.
In 1894 Oregon formed its first football team. Calling themselves the Oregon Webfoots, the team was coached by Cal Young. The Oregon football team was very successful and played on the field that is now the site of the University's Computing Center and Gilbert Hall. Years later in 1908 the site of the first permanent field was built. This first field was named Kincaid Field after the landowner Harrison Kincaid. This was a great improvement to Oregon football because it met all the players' needs and made money for the football program at the University. After the war players began to come back to Oregon football and a new home field. Hayward Field was the new attraction for the Oregon fans and players. This new stadium would bring in lots of new fans and attract more recruits. While playing at Hayward Field the Webfoots traveled to two Rose Bowls. Oregon was taking a new step in 1927, changing their name from the Webfoots to the Ducks and wearing new colors, Emerald green and Lemon yellow. They received their first nine-win season.
Recruiting players and changing coaches numerous times, the Ducks started to show some promise. Oregon started getting a good reputation as their football team started being successful. Playing at a stadium that barely held 20,000 didn't accomplish the exposure they needed. In 1967, athletic director Len Casanova and Leo Harris saw their dreams come true with a new stadium. The stadium was to be called Autzen stadium in honor of the Autzen family, who made the largest single donation to the stadium. Now holding 41,698 fans, the people could come and see the amazing Oregon Ducks.
With the new stadium, people began to come to the games to see the stadium and their favorite team, the Ducks. Attracting all this attention the Ducks received many talented all-conference players, for example Bobby Moore and soon-to-become one of the greatest pro quarterbacks, Dan Fouts. With many talented and all-conference players coming to Oregon, they decided to change their scheme in attracting players. With Athletic Director Bill Moos taking over and leaving behind two great Athletic Directors, Len Casanova and Bill Byrne, Oregon football started expanding. In 1991 the U of O decided to make some major facility improvements. Making the football program better and boosting the reputation of U of O football, Oregon decided to add 16 million dollars in improvements.
Named after the famous Athletic Director Len Casanova, the 11.8 million-dollar building , the Casanova Center signaled Oregon's football programs coming of age. The Len Casanova Ccenter was the new home of the coaches' offices and conference rooms. Not stopping there, U of O had more coming. In 1994 Oregon became Pac-10 champions and proceeded to the Rose Bowl. Success came in the next few years with players like quarterback Danny O' Neil, tailback Ricky Whittle, and linebacker Jeremy Asher.
The football program, however, still wanted to upgrade. In 1998 the Athletic Fund started to really take off and was able to attract large donors, such as Nike CEO Phil Knight, Pepsi, the Moshofsky family, and many other community businesses and celebrities. Raising the funds to build a 14 million-dollar indoor practice facility wasn't easy. But with the help of Phil Knight, they did more than build the largest practice facility in the NCAA. He sponsored this Oregon football team with Nike and designed new jerseys and a new logo.
With the football program spreading like wild fire, word of a new expansion project to the stadium started to become the talk of the town. An expansion of the stadium will be able to accommodate all the players' and fans' needs. The stadium now holds around 45,000 with standing room tickets; this will be changed to a 30% increase to nearly 55,000 screaming Duck fans. The new project will also include improved concession areas, restrooms, and greater vehicle accessibility to medical stations and handicap platforms.
The Oregon football program has come a long way, going through hard times and becoming one of the most successful programs in the NCAA today. Making improvements in facilities, athletes, and coaches U of O football shows promise. It shows it not only to its fans but also to its players and coaches in the way it has transformed throughout the years.The players and coaches are accommodated with the newest technology to better their performance. Growing fast and having successful leaders, the U of O as a whole is becoming very popular and continues to build a promising reputation for itself. A new era has begun again for Oregon football and the stadium, the stadium that holds the U of O Ducks.
Thurston High School
May 19, 2000
Project in it's entirety available at
The Springfield Museum
590 Main St.
Springfield Or, 97477