Eugene to bid for 2019 IAAF World Championships

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The biennial IAAF World Championships is track and field's Super Bowl. Eugene will bid to become the first city in the United States to ever host the meet.

Applications are expected to be submitted this week at the meeting of the IAAF's ruling council for the right to host the IAAF World Championships in 2019, and Eugene is expected to be in the running. Since the event began in 1983, the United States has never hosted the meet.

Despite having never hosted the meet, the United States has been the most successful country in the world on the track with 300 medals, including 138 gold medals. To give you an idea how the US dominates the meet, Russia is second with 168 medals and 53 gold medals.

Eugene is expected to compete for the bid with Doha, the Qatari capital, and Barcelona. Doha lost out in a bid for the meet to London, who will host the event in 2017. Spain has hosted the meet once when Seville hosted the championships in 1999.

Eugene will host the IAAF World Junior Championships this summer. The meet will be an audition for the city to prove that they can host a track meet on a major scale. Hayward Field has been the home to the US Olympic Trials for track and field in 2008 and 2012, and will host the meet again in 2016. The historic venue also hosted the USA Outdoor Championships in 2009 and 2011, the equivalent of the US Olympic Trials in a non-Olympic year.

Hayward Field has a seating capacity of 10,500 and can be expanded to fit 21,000 fans. It would be the smallest venue to ever host the event. Every stadium that has hosted the meet has had a capacity of at least 40,000, and so a massive expansion project would almost certainly be required to host the meet.

The size of the city could also hurt Eugene's bid effort. Eugene has a population of just under 160,000 people. With the exception of Sant-Denis (the host city in 2003 with a population of about 105,000), no host city has ever had a population of under half a million people. Eugene's small size could cause a logistical headache as the city could become overwhelmed with the sheer number of people that would flock to the city. Athletes, coaches, world media outlets and fans would all need housing for the meet, which generally lasts eight or nine days. This summer's World Junior Championships will essentially be a practice round to give Eugene a better idea on how to handle what some probably consider a logistical nightmare.

However, Eugene does have some advantages as well. Hayward Field, considered by many to be the most famous track and field stadium in the world, is only one of five IAAF Class 1 certified tracks in the United States. If the council wants to bring the meet to the US, Hayward Field would be the most likely venue.

Eugene is also a stop on the IAAF's Diamond League series. Each June, Hayward Field hosts the Prefontaine Classic, a meet stacked with world class talent.

The decision is expected to be announced by the IAAF in November, which would give Eugene almost five full years to prepare for the world's biggest track meet.

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