Oregon22 a resounding success for American athletics. Could Indy host?

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INDIANAPOLIS – If the world championships can be held in a small town like Track Town, what about our town?

The athletic showpiece wrapped up Sunday night in Eugene, Oregon with two world records, a sold-out Hayward Field and an atmosphere that participants and viewers won’t soon forget. This event has never happened in the United States before, and maybe it won’t be coming back anytime soon.

It should.

Members of Team USA celebrate after winning the team trophy on the final day of the World Championships in Athletics on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

The United States has the best team and the biggest market in sports. It’s a market that World Athletics, the sport’s governing body, is trying to use to elevate the sport here and everywhere. Of course, doing it here means colliding with juggernauts like professional football, basketball, and baseball.

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The world championships ended in a new stadium of 270 million dollars in the 113e-ranked media market. Privacy enhanced the experience for 1,700 athletes from 179 countries, many of whom were staying in university dormitories near the stadium. Some of this could be replicated in Indianapolis’ 25e-marked market.

If you want to think outside the box – just throw the box away – how about a world championship inside Lucas Oil Stadium? With an open roof and sides, and a track to lay down and then rip off, you can imagine it.

How much would it cost? Maybe $2-5 million? Both Atlanta 1996 and London 2012 stadiums were redeveloped after the Olympics, so it’s not as if such projects were never undertaken.

Max Siegel is CEO of USA Track & Field, headquartered here. He said he was “passionate” about re-establishing an imprint.

The Pan American Games and the first indoor world championships were held in Indianapolis in 1987, the Olympic trials in 1988, the NCAA indoor championships from 1989 to 1999 and the United States championships in 1983, 1985, 1997, 2006 and 2007.

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Concretely, bringing something means resurfacing on the track at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium and using the Fall Creek Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The pavilion, due for completion in the summer of 2023, is designed to accommodate an indoor track and was chosen for the 2025 NCAA Division II meet.

A temporary runway at Lucas Oil?

“I don’t necessarily think it’s that insane,” Siegel said. “We want to continue to look for ways to innovate and ways in which the national headquarters must also organize top-notch events.”

Floor space to accommodate an eight-lane 400-meter track is approximately 180 meters by 90 meters, and Lucas Oil may be insufficient. Stadium manager Eric Neuburger said there were 190 yards between the pitch suite wall in the south end zone and the north showroom wall. However, support columns and other stationary parts would disrupt the layout.

Is it close.

If that’s plausible, Neuburger said, “I’d be in.”

Neuburger’s father, Dale, brought the World Swimming Championships to a 25-meter pool inside the Conseco Fieldhouse in 2004. Lucas Oil Stadium is hosting the Olympic Swimming Trials to a 50-meter pool in 2024.

Fans fill the stands at the World Championships in Athletics at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on Friday, July 22, 2022.

No city hosts big events like this, as evidenced by the 2012 Super Bowl and a 2021 NCAA basketball tournament played almost entirely in Indianapolis. Siegel said he wants to hold championship events on a regular basis. The onus would be on the USATF to do that, because assigning every major track meet to a small town in the Pacific Northwest can’t grow the sport.

“Our athletes love being in Indianapolis,” Siegel said. “If you talk to anyone from Jackie Joyner-Kersee to Carl Lewis to young athletes, the location is great. People love it. They have great memories there.”

Siegel also suggested that Indianapolis could become a training center and that the USATF is looking at ways to provide athletes with “living wages.”

It may be time for the world’s oldest and most universal sport to return to Circle City.

“I’m pushing the jackpot,” Siegel said.

USA wins a record 33 medals

The United States closed the 10-day championships with 33 medals, breaking the record of 31 set by East Germany in Rome in 1987. The 13 gold medals for the United States were one less than the record.

The Americans had more medals than the next three countries combined: Ethiopia, Jamaica and Kenya with 10 each.

The sport likely retains its once-in-four-year slot, although Siegel said the World Championships can be a catalyst for developing athletics ahead of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“There is a huge awareness because of the World Championships,” he said.

World Athletics awarded a team trophy for the first time, and the United States won it with a record 328 points (scoring eight places) – also more than the next three countries combined.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of World Athletics, called Eugene’s performance “off the chart”.

Superlatives included:

>> The United States swept the men’s 100 and 200 meters for the first time since the St. Louis Olympics in 1904.

>> Sydney McLaughlin lowered the women’s 400m hurdles world record for the fourth time in 13 months, to 50.68, in one of the greatest feats in the sport’s long history. She then ran 400 meters in 47.91 on the anchor leg of Sunday night’s relay.

>> World records were set on Day 10 by pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis of Sweden at 20 feet 4 ½ inches (6.21m) and Tobi Amusan of Nigeria in the 100 meters hurdles. Amusan lowered it to 12.12 in the semis before a wind-assisted 12.06 in the final.

>> In addition to Olympic gold medalists like McLaughlin, Athing Mu (800 meters) and Ryan Crouser (shot put) adding world titles to their resumes, Team USA had some “out of the ordinary” surprises: silver medals for Marvin Bracy (100) and Kara Ailier (javelin) and bronzes for Zach Ziemek (decathlon), Trevor Bassitt (400 hurdles), Josh Awotunde (shot put) and Tori Franklin (triple jump).

>> Records were set for most countries winning gold medals (29, up from 26 in 2017) and most countries finishing in the top eight (81, up from 76 in 2019). Liberia, Niger, Pakistan, Samoa, Philippines and Guatemala played in a final for the first time.

Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.


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