Register Guard: IAAF puts eyes on TrackTown

Sebastian Coe Vin Lananna IAAF TrackTown USA
IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel (from left), TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna and IAAF Vice President Sebastian Coe speak about Eugene’s bid for the 2019 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships. (Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard)

Eugene’s bid for the 2019 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships was placed under the microscope the past two days by members of the IAAF Evaluation Commission, in town to give the proposal, Hayward Field and the city’s infrastructure a closer look.

The 10-member group, chaired by IAAF vice president and former Olympic great Sebastian Coe, is on a tour of the three cities bidding for the world championships. They previously visited Barcelona and are headed this week to Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

The commission will report its findings to the IAAF Council, which will make a decision on Nov. 18 in Monaco following live presentations by the three organizing committees.

“We should never, as an international federation, take lightly the desire and commitment of a city to want to play its part in helping us showcase our sport globally,” Coe said on Monday during a news conference at Matthew Knight Arena. “Our responsibility and our objective is clear and unambiguous. It is to provide for the November council meeting when 26 council colleagues, including the president, will make a judgment about where the 2019 World Athletics Championships will be going.”

That meant delving into the details of Eugene’s bid which, if successful, would bring the World Outdoor Championships to the United States for the first time.

It would also mean beating back bids by significantly larger metropolitan areas that offer all the perks that come with hosting an event in a major city, including access to and an abundance of hotel and transportation options.

“Clearly, it would be a big moment for a city to stage a games that has never held them before in a country that has never held them before,” Coe said. “If I may say so, that was probably the refrain for the previous two days. I don’t think any of us are leaving here in any doubt about the seriousness that you take these championships.”

The Evaluation Commission inspected more than a dozen key points in the Eugene bid, with topics ranging from security to ticketing to accommodations for approximately 2,000 athletes.

“It was a tiring process, a comprehensive process, a probing process, but a fantastic process,” said Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown USA, which is spearheading the bid process along with USA Track & Field. “We have a very strong understanding of what’s required and what the responsibility is for us.”

Lananna said his group made 16 different presentations over the two days and all of them were “anchored around iconic Hayward Field.”

TrackTown USA will now have seven days to address in writing any of the questions the Evaluation Commission had with its bid.

Lananna has been steadfast in his refusal to divulge specific details of Eugene’s pitch, not wanting to take any of the shine off what he expects will be a sparkling presentation in Monaco.

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