Thousands coming for US Olympic Trials will help Lane County's tourism industry

"Typically, the Olympic Trials, in the past anyways, has been about a $37 million economic generator for our region, so with the reduced numbers it won't have as significant of an impact, but following a year of COVID, we're looking forward to seeing any kind of improvement."

Posted: May 13, 2021 8:22 PM
Updated: May 13, 2021 8:47 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Local businesses are looking forward to more than a thousand athletes, coaches, and fans heading into the Eugene-Springfield metro-area next month for the US Olympic Trials.

"Once they get an opportunity to walk into the stadium, it will feel like a really magical moment," TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly said.

His organization is planning the trials.

A limited number of fans will be allowed to attend the event. There will be eight days of competition with two rest days in between. When tickets become available again, they will first be offered to athletes' families, according to Reilly.

"I feel very confident today that we will end up seeing a couple thousand spectators," Reilly said.

Those fans play a major role in the local tourism industry, according to Travel Lane County's Andy Vobora.

"Typically, the Olympic Trials, in the past anyways, has been about a $37 million economic generator for our region, so with the reduced numbers it won't have as significant of an impact," Vobora said. "But following a year of COVID, we're looking forward to seeing any kind of improvement."

Nonetheless, Vobora said the limited number of fans has made it easier to find places for athletes and coaches to stay while attending the event.

"Normally, an event like this would fill up virtually everything we have in the metro area and we'd spill out into the outlying communities," Vobora said. "This time around we're not facing that."

Hayward Field's maximum capacity is about 25,000 people, but only about half of those seats are permanent seating.

After Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday that counties with more than 65% of people 16 and older partially vaccinated will be able to apply to move into the lower risk category. Under the lower risk guidelines, outdoor entertainment venues like Hayward Field would be allowed up to seat about 50% of fans.

At this time, Reilly could not confirm exactly how many fans would be allowed to purchase tickets to the event. He said that announcement will be coming in the near future and more information can be found at Tracktown20.com.

The Campbell House Inn in Eugene is one business that benefits from large track events like the US Olympic Trials.

"As long as we keep people safe and keep them feeling safe then travel and leisure will do very well," the inn's general manager Brett Rauber said.

The inn can fill 20 rooms and rates are typically higher during large events such as the trials, according to Rauber.

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