In the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, long before most of us will wake up, the IAAF will announce their decision on who will host the 2019 IAAF World Championships. As there are no Olympics in 2019, this will be the biggest sporting event in the world that year. I'm not talking popularity, I'm talking sheer scale.
The meet will feature over 2,000 of the world's best track & field athletes from over 200 countries. The world will literally descend upon the host city to watch a track meet that equals the Olympics for athletes. So it seems only fitting that Eugene, also known as TrackTown USA, is one of three finalists to host the meet.
Eugene is up against two much larger cities in Doha, Qatar and Barcelona, Spain. For comparison purposes, Eugene has a population of about 160,000 people. Doha has a population of over 1.3 million people while Barcelona has a population of over 1.6 million people. So what business does a small town in Oregon (compared to these major international cities) have hosting the world's biggest sporting event in 2019?
If you've never been to Hayward Field personally, then you'll never understand why Eugene not only stands a fighting chance to host this meet, but should host this meet. Hayward Field, perhaps the most famous track venue in the world, has its own magic. If you don't believe me, just ask guys like Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating or Ashton Eaton. In 2008, Symmonds and Wheating delivered miraculous kicks and charged down the homestretch of the 800 meter final, being carried by the thunderous roar of the crowd as they booked their ticket to the Olympics. In 2012, Ashton Eaton broke the world record in the decathlon, chasing the record as he finished the 1500. I was there. It was truly magical. The roar of the crowd could be heard a mile away from the stadium. It's the Hayward Magic, and it is absolutely real.
Doha and Barcelona might have bigger stadiums and brighter lights, but what they don't have are venues that have their own magic which athletes will attest to. They don't have a community that lives for sunny spring track meets. (Yes, the sun does come out in Eugene, believe it or not.) While Hayward Field might be smaller (probably with an expanded capacity around 30,000), it will also be louder than any stadium in the world for this meet. The people of this town are passionate about track & field, something the nation has seen at the Olympic Trials in 2008 and 2012. They will pack every nook and cranny at Hayward Field, creating an atmosphere the IAAF could only dream about elsewhere.
This goes so far beyond who is the biggest city with the most money. If the IAAF wants to help grow the sport, there is no place better to do that than Tracktown USA. Every night, NBC would likely air the meet in primetime, making it easy for Americans from Seattle to Miami and everywhere in between to get swept up in the action. If the meet takes place in Doha or Barcelona, I guarantee you that only the diehards who currently watch will be devoted enough to find a stream to watch at some awkward hour. But if the meet is held in Eugene, the whole nation will have the opportunity to have that Hayward Magic brought right into their living rooms.
The United States has been by far the most successful nation in track & field. Since 1983, the United States has won 300 medals. The next closest country is Russia with 168 medals. The United States has won 138 gold medals, more than the next three countries combined. Yet despite being the most successful nation in the sport, the United States has never hosted the World Championships. This is an opportunity to reward the United States for their success in the sport by bringing the biggest meet in the world to our own backyard.
So I say to the IAAF, #VoteTrackTown and let us show the world the beauty of the Hayward Magic.