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UO Board moves forward with planning for 2022 World Athletics Championships

The University of Oregon Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to officially move forward with planning for the 2022 World Athletics Championships, set to take place at Hayward Field.

Eugene had already been designated as the site for the event years ago, but the UO Board vote authorizes further agreements to take place.

The event, previously known as the IAAF Track and Field Championships, was supposed to take place this year but was postponed due to the pandemic.

According to the UO Board, this is the first time the track and field event — the third-largest sporting event in the world — will be held in the U.S., and it’s the first time it will be held on a university campus.

“This is really an opportunity for our university to be shown on an extremely large platform,” Carlyn Schreck, UO’s Assistant Vice President for Presidential Initiatives, said in Wednesday’s board meeting. “The event itself will have about 2,000 athletes representing 200 countries around the world.”

Although the 10-day event will be held at UO’s newly-renovated Hayward Field in July 2022, a separate organizing committee — Oregon22, LLC — will be the entity officially running the event.

“As the site host for this global event, the university will enter into several agreements with Oregon22 to ensure that the institution is appropriately compensated for the costs of providing facilities and services for the event,” board documents read.

According to board meeting materials, the university estimates that it will receive anywhere from $4 million to $6 million in remuneration for hosting the event — as it will be using its own services such as ticketing, catering, technology support and its residence halls for housing athletes.

“The university is not trying to make a profit off of the event, but we’re also trying to make sure that our units that are providing services and goods in some cases are not worse off because we had the event,” UO Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO Jamie Moffitt said. “So, that’s the balance that we’re trying to strike.”

Moffitt continued: “Obviously this is just a wonderful event for the university and we want to be a strong partner with the local organizing committee.”

The Board specifically had to vote to move forward with the planning as it has to approve any amount exceeding $5 million — in expenses, or in this case, in revenue.

“We would like to secure board authorization to move forward with those contracts,” Moffitt said. “They may not end up going above $5 million, but in the event that they do, we make sure that the board is fully in the loop and supportive of the direction we’re heading.”

As a whole, the event is expected to cost substantially more than that to put on.

In 2018, a budget for hosting the world championships submitted to Oregon’s tourism commission by Oregon21, the local organizing committee for the event at the time, anticipated the total cost of the event at $85 million.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell