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By Oregon Track Club account team

With the 2021 IAAF World Outdoor Athletics Championships heading to TrackTown USA, Eugene is about to gain serious credibility in its involvement in track and field. This will be the first time that this event is held in the United States in its 33-year history. The decision to have this event in Eugene, Oregon, is a major step for the city and the track community based here. 

Impact on Eugene

With previous IAAF World Athletics Championships being held in major cities such as Doha, London and Paris, holding this event in Eugene serves as a major legitimizer for the track culture established in Eugene because it is the smallest city to host this event thus far. With a population of around 170,000 people, Eugene stands out as an underdog against capital cities and previous event locations like Beijing, Moskva and Berlin with populations in the multi-millions.

That said, according to Tom Banse, there is a high need for state funding for hosting the championships, as the revenues from ticket sales and sponsorships fall short of the amount needed to organize an event of this scale. The University of Oregon has already shown its commitment to the event by rebuilding historic Hayward Field. However, because of the publicity that Eugene could receive from the championships, its investment is expected to pay off. TrackTown USA is now becoming TrackTown Worldwide.

Impact on the University of Oregon

There’s no doubt that Hayward Field’s state-of-the-art renovation will provide the University of Oregon (UO) with the means to host the most premiere track events in the world. A large international audience from the world championships will attract many prospective students from all around the world. According to the Register-Guard, this event is supposed to draw in 2,000 athletes and over 50,000 spectators daily for the 10-day event. 

Renovated Hayward Field will help to recruit students and athletes alike. When Hayward reopens in 2020, Oregon Track and Field athletes will be taking to social media to comment on the facility and show their excitement about competing at a highly recognized location. With Eugene hosting the World Athletic Championships, the UO and its track and field team will gain an added level of credibility that will motivate prospective athletes to commit to the school. 

Additionally, every day, students will also have the opportunity to make their own memories at Hayward Field and continue to show how special TrackTown USA is, even after the final event of the 2019 IAAF World Outdoor Athletic Championships. 

Is Eugene Ready?

Comparing Eugene to previous hosts of the 2021 IAAF World Athletics Championships is tough. Eugene’s infrastructure is not as prepared for an event like this as previous host cities such as London and Beijing which have both held recent Olympic Games. The cost of the track spectacle is estimated at $85 million, and organizers are planning on receiving a $40 million state subsidy to be able to cover the costs. This is a huge investment into Oregon track and the state of Oregon as a whole. 

Being the first city in North America to host the IAAF World Athletics Championships, Eugene will determine the United States’ chances of hosting the event in the future. Being able to provide an experience comparable to a host city such as London, which hosted the event in 2017, is a substantial feat. With the Eugene and greater track community looking for the event of a lifetime, Eugene must be ready and in full swing to host come August 2021. The added commotion in Eugene will result in many PR opportunities as both proactive and reactive strategies must be implemented in order to showcase Eugene and host a successful event. Allen Hall PR, the University of Oregon, USATF and other organizations must prepare for anything. With an event of this size, PR professionals must also be ready with crisis response plans in case something plays out differently than planned.

What this means for Oregon Track Club

The IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships also brings the opportunity of expansion for other organizations in the TrackTown community. The Oregon Track Club (OTC), started in 1965 by Nike co-founder and former Oregon track head coach Bill Bowerman, has been an integral part in the establishment of Eugene as a track town. With OTC’s rich track history and traditions rooted at Hayward Field such as its establishment of the Prefontaine Classic, OTC will be able to play a substantial role at the IAAF Championships. As a team, we are now starting to explore ways that our client could be more involved in this championship and the relaunch of Hayward Field.