Eugene, Oregon is known around the world as TrackTown for a reason! The list of track and field events that have been hosted in the city is truly impressive and the list of premier events that the city will host in the summers of 2020 and 2021 will certainly build on the track legacy. The scheduled events include:
- 2020 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships - May 16-17
- 2020 Diamond League Prefontaine Classic - June 6-7
- 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field - June 19–28
- 2021 NCAA Track & Field Championships - June 9-12
- 2021 World Athletics Championships Oregon21 - August 6-15
The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission recently held its final Oregon Sports Summit Series session of 2019 and welcomed a large group of community members that were eager to learn about these upcoming events, the complete reconstruction of the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field that is set to host the events, and, ultimately, learn how their businesses can leverage the events.
TrackTown, USA: Our Track & Field Legacy
Kari Westlund, President and CEO of Eugene, Cascades & Coast (Travel Lane County), fittingly began the afternoon by educating the group on the history of the TrackTown legacy. Westlund talked about the incredible coaching careers of Bill Hayward, Bill Bowerman and Bill Dellinger. She touched on the origins of Nike and how recreational running was birthed in Eugene. The records set by running icon Steve Prefontaine, the evolution of the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic and the establishment of Pre’s Trail in Eugene all figured prominently in the history. She discussed how Vin Lananna led efforts to secure four consecutive U.S. Olympic Trials – Track & Field in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020—making history. She noted he also assembled the bids that brought the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships to Eugene as well as the upcoming 2021 World Athletics Championships. Robert Johnson, the current coach at the University of Oregon, has led the Ducks to 13 NCAA team titles, 14 Pac-12 team titles and 50 NCAA individual titles, Westlund said. In closing, she reviewed the economic impact that track events have had on the hospitality industry and reported that over $180 million has been generated and another $90+ million is already scheduled.
U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field
Next, TrackTown USA leaders Michael Reilly, CEO, and Jessi Gabriel, Director of Strategic Communications, shared TrackTown USA’s vision and mission as the local organizing committee for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials – Track & Field. Gabriel said the organization’s mission is to create a world-class experience for athletes, fans, and the community. She went on to share the organization’s core values and detailed several strategic objectives. The pair talked about multiple sponsorship opportunities that included a range of options including hosting stadium suites, stadium terrace event signage, stadium LED screen advertising, fan fair exhibiting or providing event tickets for underprivileged children. Reilly said they were open to ideas and were willing to be creative with sponsorships and he encouraged anybody that was interested to speak with them directly. Gabriel shared some examples of what local businesses have done in the past that included event watch parties, hosting special events for athletes or coaches, sponsoring tickets for local youth and suggested even little things like having drink specials or track-themed food specials can get your brand and business associated with track and the premier events. For more information, visit TrackTown20.com.
World Athletics Championships Oregon21
World Athletics Championships Oregon21 event executives James Tolputt, CEO, and Sarah Massey, Managing Director, took the stage next to talk about their excitement about Eugene being the host city for the event in 2021. Massey spoke briefly about the rebranding of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to World Athletics and said that some rebranding efforts were still underway including the development of a separate logo that could be used to promote the event by third parties. Massey said the baton was handed off to the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, at the conclusion of the event in Doha, Qatar earlier this month and that the goal of the 2021 event in Eugene is to elevate the sport of track and field and the state of Oregon globally. Massey emphasized that this would be the first time the event has ever been held in the United States and that it would be the largest sporting event in the world that year given there would be no Olympics or World Cup soccer in 2021. The event will be host to over 2,000 athletes competing from every country in the world with an expected 13,374 total participants including athletes, staff, World Athletics’ personnel, and media. Massey reported that a 2015 report by ECONorthwest estimated an expected 54,874 visitors for the event, with 60.5% of visitors coming from outside Oregon. Massey said to sign up for news about the event, visit www.oregon21.com.
The University of Oregon’s Hayward Field was the focus of the next presentation by Carlyn Schreck, Assistant Vice President for Presidential Initiatives at the University of Oregon. Schreck pointed out that Hayward Field has been evolving for 100 years and counting and said the future of track and field would always have a home at the stadium. She said that the fans and athletes are what really make the venue magical and the new design will amplify that. The stadium capacity will be 12,650 and expandable to over 25,000. When complete in 2020, Schreck said Hayward Field will be the finest track and field facility in the world. The re-imagined stadium will give athletes an unparalleled stage on which to push the limits of what is possible while providing the ultimate fan experience—a theater for track with comfortable seats, in-stadium amenities, amazing sight lines and intimacy to the competitors. For more information, visit hayward.uoregon.edu.
Summers of 2020 and 2021
Keith Peters, Consultant with Mixed Zone Media, rounded out the afternoon with information about his goals and objectives for helping to build excitement around the opening of Hayward Field and the scheduled events that will take place in the stadium in 2020 and 2021. He hopes to re-energize and re-engage the local track and field community and demonstrate the value of Hayward Field at the University of Oregon to the broader community. Peters said he plans to leverage partners and stakeholders (TrackTown USA, Oregon21, City of Eugene, Oregon Track Club, etc.) to help build attention and excitement. He also plans to maximize opportunities during events throughout the summer of 2020 by working with the event organizers to ensure their audiences are blown away by their first experiences in Hayward Field. Peters said that Hayward Field is a prime example of the University of Oregon’s overall trajectory towards excellence and that the community should have great gratitude for the stadium, which is a tremendous gift to the university, track community, Eugene, Springfield, Oregon and the world.