EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Eugene has retained its status as the "Track Capital of the United States," beating out rival Sacramento to host the 2008 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials. USA Track & Field, the sport's governing body, announced the decision Friday in Indianapolis, following a presentation by the Oregon Track Club.
The group's CEO, Craig Masback, called the University of Oregon's Hayward Field "hallowed ground in our sport." He added that the City of Eugene's "vision for what they can do to connect track's past, present and future won the day."
Eugene was in a dead heat against Sacramento, which pulled out the red carpet for track officials, who visited both Eugene and Sacramento as well as finalists Carson, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, before making their final decision. At all the sites, the USA Track & Field site selection committee inspected the track-and-field facilities, as well as the surrounding town to gauge which city would best serve the athletes as well as the thousands of fans.
While Eugene has long billed itself as the sport's capital, some say Sacramento had earned the title by hosting the Olympic Trials in 2000 and 2004, as well as the NCAA championships. In 2004, the city set an attendance record, drawing 171,000 spectators and generating an estimated $20 million in visitor spending over the 10-day event.
"We will do everything in our power to make this the most unforgettable experience for the athletes, the spectators and the people of Oregon," said Oregon Track Club president Greg Erwin.