How a Midsize U.S. City Is Preparing to Host One of the World’s Largest Sporting Events

Historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon will be renovated and reconstructed to host the 2021 IAAF World Championships.

Historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon will be renovated and reconstructed to host the 2021 IAAF World Championships. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The IAAF track-and-field world championships are still three years away. Local officials in Eugene, Oregon may be “slightly nervous” but are embracing an “opportunity to really shine.”

PORTLAND, Ore. — When you look at the list of places that have hosted the world’s largest biennial track-and-field competition in recent years, it’s not necessarily surprising that major cities like Beijing and London have hosted such a global sporting event. Doha, the capital of the oil- and gas-rich Persian Gulf state of Qatar, will host the International Association of Athletics Associations’ World Outdoors Championships in 2019. And then coming up in 2021 will be Eugene, Oregon, a midsize college town with a fraction of the population and a far lower profile on the world stage.

“This is our chance to be put on the map,” Stephanie Scafa, the city of Eugene’s project lead on local planning efforts for the event, told a gathering of municipal professionals from across the Pacific Northwest on Friday organized by Engaging Local Government Leaders. “This is our opportunity to really shine.”

How Eugene secured the bid for the 2021 competition, which was led by the nonprofit TrackTown USA and not the city itself, has been a source of major controversy. The Oregon21 bid, as the organizing effort is known as, has faced scrutiny from the FBI since it sidestepped the IAAF’s normal selection process. But regardless of how Eugene won the bid back in 2015, the city’s planning and preparations must move forward for the 10-day competition, set for Aug. 6-15, 2021.

It will be the biggest athletic event anywhere in the world that year. Two-thousand athletes from 214 member athletic federations are expected for the competition, Scafa said. And nearly every nation in the world will be represented at the world championships. No pressure to make a good global first impression, right?

Pulling an event off like this, not surprisingly, is an effort that requires cooperation among multiple cross-sector partners. That includes Eugene’s city government, which is working closely with its state, county, university and other local stakeholders.

“We’re all really excited about the event,” Scafa said of the city government. But “we’re slightly nervous,” too, due to the size of the event and the logistics involved.

Stephanie Scafa of the city of Eugene, at right, speaks about the Oregon 2021 world track and field competition on Friday during an Engaging Local Government Leaders regional conference in Portland. (Photo by Michael Grass / Route Fifty)

While Eugene regularly hosts track-and-field meets, including U.S. Olympic trials, the world championships are far larger than any previous athletic competition in the city. Eugene will also be the first U.S. city to host the IAAF track-and-field competition and will see its local population of roughly 165,000 residents swell.

Despite some those local jitters of being on the world stage, “we’re a few years out and it seems like we’re in a good place right now,” she said.

As the city prepares for the world championships, Scafa said Eugene is currently focused on four priorities: learning from other host cities; strengthening partnerships and coordination; building momentum on existing projects; and strategic communication.

“It’s going to take a lot of coordination with all of our partners” on the Oregon21 organizing committee, said Scafa, who previously led the city’s solid waste program.

The city won’t be building any new facilities but the University of Oregon is reconstructing Hayward Field—a track with a storied history in the world of track and field competition—and preparing three areas of campus for athlete housing. “We have a really solid town-gown relationship,” Scarfa said of the city’s interactions with the university.

Since the event is a statewide event, Scafa used the ELGL event to welcome other local governments in Oregon to think about how they might be able to join the effort, especially when it comes to help identify local tracks in their communities that could be used by athletic federations as practice facilities.

While Eugene’s city government isn’t responsible for building new infrastructure to host the event, leaders at City Hall are using the competition as a “catalyst” for other projects, Scafa said, including a mixed-use development adjacent to downtown that features a former city steam plant. The riverfront site will be adjacent to a 1.3-mile long park.

The city also has a tree-planting effort—2,021 new trees by 2021—and community mural projects underway, too.

Hosting the 2021 championships, Scafa said, gives the city a solid deadline take those plans and make them happen.

“It’s a really interesting time in Eugene,” Scafa said.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

NEXT STORY: This State Could Outlaw Ballot Collection Efforts

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.