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  • U.S. on Hosting Athletics World Champs: "We Can Do This" -- Op Ed


    USA Track & Field CEO Max Siegel says the quest for the IAAF Athletics World Championships is not over.

    In November Eugene,Oregon came in second to Doha, Qatar for the 2019 edition of the event. It’s the closest the U.S. has come to hosting the championships for the first time.

    In this Op Ed for
    Around the Rings, Siegel says “we’re not done yet."

    USA Track & Field CEO Max Siegel (USATF)
    (ATR) Last month, the United States made its boldest attempt ever to host the IAAF’s premier event, the 2019 IAAF World Championships.

    No one, it seemed, expected us to win. The notion of putting forward Eugene, Oregon, to host an event held most often in cities such as Paris, London, Berlin, Beijing and Moscow seemed absurd to many.

    Ultimately, Doha won the bid for 2019, with 15 IAAF Council votes to the United States’ 12. We have been told that this vote was much closer than what many had anticipated.


    From the start, we all recognized that ours was a bit of a dark horse bid in that it was unconventional. No 5-star hotel towers in urban centers, no (current) high-tech stadium. But we knew and felt we had a very legitimate chance, for very legitimate reasons. As TrackTown USA (TTUSA) president Vin Lananna put it on our presentation before the site evaluation commission and Council: We want to do this. We can do this. And we will sell out every event.

    Our Eugene bid is emblematic of a new era in the sport, even as it is one of the most historic locations in the sport. Eugene has managed to do what the entire sport needs to do: to take its historic legacy, celebrate it, modernize it and fully “own” its new profile.

    Track & Field internationally is in the process of repackaging itself, and, as the recent IOC meetings hinted at, “right-sizing” itself in the modern sports and Olympic marketplace.
    Hayward Field [in Eugene] in its future, renovated form, is the right size at 30,000 spectators. A full stadium is the right look for an international TV feed – nothing conveys a strong sport like a packed stadium, just as nothing raises eyebrows like a championship with spotty attendance. A TV broadcast that doesn’t conflict with the juggernauts of American football and European soccer is the right time. Even the weather is right in Eugene in August.

    U.S. athletes huddle for a photo at Hayward Field in Eugene. (Getty Images)
    At USATF, over the last two years we have remade and repackaged ourselves to increase our commercial competitiveness. The result has been increasing our net assets from $3M+ to $17M, and our revenue from $19M to $35M. We had seven partnership announcements in 2014 alone. With our financial success increasing, our international profile going up and our partnership with TTUSA bringing major events to the U.S., we have positive progress on all fronts.

    USATF considers it a privilege as well as a duty to host international championships on U.S. soil. The 2014 World Junior Championships were contested in Eugene and played to full stands at Hayward Field. In 2016, Portland, Oregon, will host the World Indoor Championships.

    For both World Juniors and World Indoors, TrackTown USA serves as the local organizer. They have become the standard of excellence for championship organizers in this country. No group has more experience, skill or audacity when it comes to their ambition, desire and ability to host world-class events. They proved that with the last two Olympic Trials as well as World Juniors.

    The United States has the World’s #1 Track & Field Team. We have the world’s largest sporting economy, with the world’s largest corporate sport sponsors within our borders. With Eugene, we have some of the world’s most renowned track fans. It is almost a mythical spot on the athletics globe – a bit of a journey to get there, but once you are there, go “get” it.

    We want to do this. We can do this. We want to “get” it. And we’re not done.

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