In recent years Eugene, Ore., the Willamette Valley college town that rightfully calls itself “Tracktown USA,” has found itself at the center of a great debate within American track and field.
Eugene has hosted the past three Olympic Trials and six of the past 10 U.S. Championships, and since 2013 it has been the home of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, an arrangement that is expected to be extended to 2022 any day now. Tracktown also hosts the Prefontaine Classic, ranked in recent years as the world’s premier annual meet. Eugene in 2021 also will host the first World Championships held on American soil.
No one does a better job in the U.S. — maybe the world — of putting on a track meet than the folks in Eugene and storied Hayward Field is a venue without equal in the American sport.
But the question that been increasingly asked even in Tracktown is that for all of the financial success and athletic excellence generated by Eugene, is it really in the best interest of U.S. track to hold so many major meets at Hayward Field? If you’re going to grow the sport from a commercial and spectator standpoint at some point don’t you have to take a stand somewhere beyond the Tracktown city limits?
In awarding the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials to Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, USA Track & Field on Wednesday showed its determination to regain a foothold in a major market.
By an 11-2 vote USATF’s board of directors awarded the 10-day Trials to Mt. SAC, a venue with its own lengthy record-setting history in the sport and $62 million renovation project that promises to turn Hilmer Lodge Stadium into a world-class facility.