|Ashton Eaton crosses the finish line in the decathlon 1500|
meter run to set a world record at the 2012 US Olympic Trials
at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon (Paul Merca photo)
In two days, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) will select the site of the 2019 world track & field championships between the cities of Barcelona, Spain; Doha, Qatar; and, Eugene, Oregon.
From a global perspective, there is no way that Eugene can compete with either Barcelona or Doha in terms of accessibility, night life, hotels (especially the 5-star kind), experience hosting major international sporting events (Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympics, and Doha has hosted several world championship sporting events, and will host soccer's World Cup in 2022), and even stadia (Hayward Field's capacity is well below the IAAF minimum seating capacity of 30000).
If there's one thing that Eugene has that neither Doha nor Barcelona has, it's the passion and enthusiasm for the sport.
In my humble opinion, there is no place that I've visited in the world (and you're talking to a guy who has attended and covered eleven IAAF world championship meets, and two Olympics) that shows the kind of passion for the sport that Eugene has.
Assuming that Eugene can get the hotels built, have the transportation infrastructure put in place to move athletes, VIPs, officials, and spectators, and have a world class broadcast center and press center for the thousands of print, broadcast and internet journalists and technicians, there is no reason why a world track & field championship meet in Eugene wouldn't work. Seems to me that if the city can handle 54,000+ on seven Saturdays in the fall for University of Oregon football games, they surely can handle 30000+ for nine consecutive days of track & field.
It's my belief that the city of Eugene, the entire Pacific Northwest region, and the United States will embrace the 2019 IAAF world track & field championships with the same passion that it shows when it hosts meets like the NCAA and USA championships, as well as the Nike Prefontaine Classic and the US Olympic Trials.
If the IAAF selection committee members want to line their pockets with cash, go ahead and vote for Doha. If those members want to keep the meet in Europe, go ahead and pick Barcelona. If the IAAF members want to see full stands for every session without having to bus folks in to pad the attendance figures, y'all would be wise to pick Eugene.
Note that since the IAAF began conducting the world championships in 1983, the United States hasn't hosted this meet. The only time the meet's been on this continent was in 2001 in Edmonton, Alberta.
As Russell Wilson, the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks so often said during the team's magical run in 2013 that cumulated in winning a Super Bowl trophy and a world championship, "Why not us?"
Why not Eugene?