September 25, 2014 / 9:56 PM / 3 years ago

Eugene to bid for IAAF world championships

(Reuters) - Eugene, Oregon will bid for the 2019 IAAF world athletics championships, seeking to become the first U.S. city to host the biennial event, officials said on Thursday.

Barcelona and Doha are also bidding for the championships, which attract the world’s top athletes and thousands of spectators.

“We’re incredibly excited about that,” U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun told Reuters.

”We think the 2019 IAAF world championships would help us build the sport of athletics in the United States, so we’re very hopeful that the IAAF will look favorably on our bid.

“We have a lot of confidence in the bid team up in Eugene.”

Nicknamed TrackTown USA, Eugene and the city’s University of Oregon have been the site of the past two U.S. Olympic trials and will host the 2016 competition to select the American team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

It recently held the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) world junior championships and is the site of the annual Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting.

Numerous national championships also have been held in Eugene and the 2016 world indoor championships are scheduled for Portland, Oregon.

The United States previously hosted the world indoor meet in 1987 at Indianapolis but the much larger outdoor competition has never been held in the U.S. and only once in North America with Edmonton the host in 2001.

“The rich tradition and history of TrackTown USA and Hayward Field make for an ideal and authentic global platform to stage this fantastic event,” Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown USA which is bidding in collaboration with USA Track & Field, said in a statement.

An IAAF evaluation commission will visit the three bidding cities next month and a final decision on the hosts will be made by the IAAF Council at its meeting in Monaco in November.

While rich in track and field history, Eugene, a city with a population of 159,000, is the smallest of the three candidates and will need to double the size of its Hayward Field stadium and increase available housing to accommodate the championships.

Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympics and 1995 IAAF world indoor championships with Doha the site of the 2010 indoor championships. Doha also holds an annual Diamond League meeting.

The next world outdoor championships are set for Beijing in 2015 with London the host in 2017.

additional reporting by Steve Keating in Chicago; Editing by Toby Davis and Greg Stutchbury

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