EUGENE, Ore. – After an exhaustive two-day process, one packed with meetings, presentations, tours and questions from the visiting IAAF Evaluation Commission, TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna offered his analysis of Eugene’s bid to play host to the 2019 IAAF World Championships.
The meet, which has never been held on U.S. soil – dating back to the inaugural event in 1983 – is expected to draw more than 2,000 of the world’s best track and field athletes from nearly 200 countries around the globe. There are two other candidate cities bidding for the IAAF’s crown jewel: Barcelona, Spain and Doha, Qatar. The final decision will be made by the 27-member IAAF Council in Monaco on Nov. 18.
TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee for the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, and the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships at Hayward Field, is leading the bid in conjunction with USA Track & Field, the governing body for the sport in this nation.
“I emphasized three things,” Lananna said at an IAAF press conference at Matthew Knight Arena earlier this week.
“One, we want to do this, and we feel we have the passion and the desire to do it. Two, we have the resources, both human and financial. Lastly, and probably most important, we are going to create the best experience ever for the athletes of the world if they join us in 2019.”The evaluation commission was chaired by IAAF vice president Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500 meters and director of the 2012 London Olympics.
At the press conference, he spoke about the significance of bringing the IAAF World Championships to the U.S., and in particular, TrackTown USA, for the first time in history.
“Clearly, it would be a big moment for a city to stage a games in a country that has never held them before,” Coe said. “That was probably the refrain for the previous two days. None of us are leaving here with any doubt about the seriousness that you take these championships.”
That point was driven home by two local events:
First, a huge banner was unfurled in the student section at the Oregon-Washington football game which urged people to #VoteTrackTown. Second, the commission was ambushed in the lobby of the Ford Alumni Center by a public rally of more than 150 people wearing #VoteTrackTown t-shirts and chanting, “We want Worlds!”
Coe stopped to address the crowd with a few inspirational words, and a smiling IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel exited the building twirling a t-shirt over his head.
According to Coe, those demonstrations left an imprint.
“If you are an evaluation commission,” he said. “and you are putting together a report for your Council colleagues, it’s comforting to go back from those cities that want to stage this event with a clear indication at the community level that the people want them.“And the clearest demonstration is that they take the time to make that point to you, and that was made very clearly to us just before lunch yesterday. We also saw footage of the banner being unfolded in the stadium at the football game.”
The TrackTown USA bid received strong support from a long list of distinguished guests, who took the time to make sure they were in Eugene during the commission’s visit.
They included Governor John Kitzhaber, Congressman Peter DeFazio, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackman, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, USATF CEO Max Siegel, USATF president Stephanie Hightower, Oregon state legislators, officials from Lane County and the cities of Eugene and Springfield, plus a handful of current and past Olympians.
Coe was impressed.
“It does appear that all the partnerships that you need to stage a successful championships are in place,” he said. “We are delighted that Eugene has thrown its hat in the ring. This is a community that understands track and field. No athlete in my generation could have come through the sport without recognizing the city’s huge contribution to track and field.”
Here’s what other media outlets are saying about TrackTown USA’s bid to host the 2019 IAAF World Championships:
• Runnerspace videos from IAAF press conference
• The Register-Guard: Championships belong in Eugene