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Photo Credit: COURTESY OF ANDY NELSON/THE REGISTER-GUARD - IAAF Vice-President Sebastian Coe (right) talks Monday in Eugene about the bid to bring the 2019 track and field world championships to Hayward Field, as Track Town USA President Vin Lananna (center) and IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel listen at the press conference.EUGENE — I'm not sure if the bid by "Track Town USA" to play host to the 2019 world track and field championships will be accepted by the International Association of Athletics Federations. But I know Eugene's bid itself was a winner.


That was clear Monday after a 48-hour visit by IAAF Evaluation Commission members, who met organizers of Eugene's bid to become the first U.S. city to put on the biannual event.

Track Town USA President Vin Lananna covered a lot of bases, leading the local organizing committee that offered 16 presentations over the weekend. While IAAF Vice President Sebastian Coe and General Secretary Essar Gabriel roamed the city to check out facilities and get a feel for the community, they were given the impression that Eugene very much wants the opportunity show its stuff.

"That was the refrain from the previous two days. the underlying message," said Coe, the Olympic 1,500 meters champion for Great Britain in 1980 and '84. "I don't think we will leave here in any doubt of the seriousness that you'd take these championships."

The other two cities that have submitted bids are Barcelona, Spain, and Doha, Qatar. Members of the IAAF Evaluation Commission visited Barcelona on Oct. 14 and 15 and leave Tuesday for a two-day stopover in Doha. They will then report back to the 26-member IAAF committee, which will hear presentations from bodies representing the three cities in Monaco and then reach a decision on Nov. 18.

"These are three cities well capable of staging major track and field championships," Coe said. "They are very different cities, and they have very different bids."

Barcelona is a city of 1.6 million and was the site of the 1992 Olympics. It's a beautiful city with first-class facilities and the know-how and experience in running a major event.

Doha is a city of 800,000 from the oil-rich country on the Persian Gulf. There is plenty of money behind its bid. The weather in Qatar during the late summer, of course, would probably hit three figures -- not ideal for track and field performance.

Eugene, population 160,000, is a small city with a very large appetite for track and field. It has played host to every major championship in the U.S. and thirsts to take on the world's most important track and field-only event, which covers nine days in late summer.

"We are delighted that Eugene has thrown its hat in the ring," Coe said. "This is a community that understands track and field. No athlete in my generation could have come through the sport without recognizing the city's huge contribution to track and field, particularly at the local level."

The University of Oregon's infrastructure is superb, with top-notch facilities. Hayward Field would be expanded to 32,000 with temporary seating.

"If we get it, we'll sell out," said Tom Jordan, chairman of Track Town USA's ticket committee.

Said Coe: "This is a community that understands track and field, has consistently supported track and field. I see no reason why the biggest opportunity to showcase our sport should have nothing other than mass appeal here."

While hotel space in Eugene is limited, Track Town officials emphasized the availability of dorm rooms that will be empty and available during the summer time.

"The dorms are nicer than a lot of hotel rooms," Jordan said.

The U.S. has never had a world championships. (Though Portland, under Lananna's charges, is playing host to the 2016 world indoor championships.) The Eugene group hopes that will work in its favor.

Also, the 2017 world championships will be in London, meaning if Barcelona were chosen for 2019, it would be back-to-back events in Europe.

Max Segel, chief executive officer for USA Track & Field, was in Eugene to help with the presentation.

"We've enjoyed a collaborative effort with Track Town," Segel said. "We feel like it's not only an honor but a duty to host this event."

Lananna said his committee emphasized three points:

"One, we want to do this. We feel we have the passion and desire to do it.

"Two, we have the resources, both human and financial.

"Three, we are going to create the best experience ever for the athletes of the world as they join us at iconic Hayward Field."

Coe listed several things the IAAF is looking for, including an emphasis on engaging with young people.

"It's important that we focus on that," he said. "We're looking for innovation. It is important that the heart of any bid is recognition that the world changes rapidly. People are in a very different landscape than they were 15 or 20 years ago. The organizing committees have to respond to that."

Lananna said there would be emphasis on interactive participation if the event makes its way to Eugene.

"Our in-stadium production will be all-inclusive," he said. "We believe we'll be able to do some things that encourage young people to participate."

If there's a leader in the clubhouse, Coe isn't providing any tips. Coe and Gabriel will report back to the full IAAF committee, which will listen to 30- to 45-minute presentations from each of the three organizing groups in Monaco, then have a vote.

All three bids are probably solid. All three cities would surely do a capable job staging the event.

Eugene's advantage would be in placing the athletes under a spotlight and making the event its Super Bowl. If that's most important to the folks making the decision, Oregon will land the biggest sporting event in the state's history.

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