EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene plays host to many college championship events, but the NCAA Track and Field Championships brings in some of the most dollars in comparison. Experts estimate the event will generate right around $6.5 million.
Track and field is a sport with a wide range of events, and just as many different athletes that participate in them. Multiply that by the number of teams that were invited to participate in this year’s NCAA Championship here in Eugene, and you have one of the largest and most diverse college crowds this town’s ever seen.
A baseball regional has four teams, a BCS bowl, only two. Track and field finals gather hundreds, more than any NCAA post-season event, all of which were well represented by the rainbow of school colors and logos on display at Hayward Field this week.
“Most championships we may have a couple hundred student athletes, especially at the final level. We may have 60 to 100 students athletes, but track is unique in that we have several hundred student athletes,” said Levida Maxwell, NCAA.
There are 1,100 to be exact from 193 different colleges and universities all across the country. Many of those athletes are accompanied by families, coaches, and fans who fill the stands at Hayward. During down time, they explore the rest of what the Willamette Valley has to offer.
“When they’re coming from all over the country, many of them are interested in seeing the sights. We’ve already talked to athletes who’ve made their way over to the coast and they’re interested in rafting trips,” said Lisa Lawton, Director of Community Relations at Travel Lane County.
“On our down time, we don’t have anyone competing today, so we’re hoping to squeeze in some rafting on the McKenzie River,” said Ben Jasinski.
“Tuesday night we went to Papa’s Soul Food,” said Don Walford.
Travel Lane County estimates 15,000 visitors will be in Eugene for the championships this week and maybe experience more than just track in Track Town.
Of all the track and field events we see here in Eugene, Travel Lane County says this championship is in line for one of the biggest money makers.