TrackTown16 a local business boost: 'We're kind of riding the coattails'

TrackTown16 a local business boost: 'We're kind of riding the coattails'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Travel Lane County estimated the economic impact of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials at about $31 million.

They expect the local economic boost to be even greater in 2016 after USA Track & Field announced Thursday that Eugene will host the next round of track trials.

“Economically, it brings in substantial impacts,” said Travel Lane County spokeswoman Lisa Lawton. “It brings in huge positive exposure for Eugene, for the region, for the entire state of Oregon.”

Lawton said her agency estimated about 20,000 people were visiting Eugene each day of the 2012 Trials.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials will be the third straight Olympic Trials in Eugene and the sixth time the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field will host the event.

The hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that cater to tourism will see the greatest impact from TrackTown16. Business owners like Wild Duck Café owner Bob Jensen said they couldn't be happier with Thursday's announcement  in Salem.

“We’re kind of riding on the coattails, but it’s a great place to be. Uncle Phil and the ‘O’ brand ... you can’t beat it,” said Wild Duck Café owner Bob Jensen.

Jensen said the Wild Duck, which is located just blocks away from Hayward Field, saw double and sometimes triple it's normal business days during the 2012 Trials.

“We’ve got a local event, national participation and global impact,” said Jensen, “And the center of hospitality was Wild Duck Café. Needless to say, we can’t wait until it comes back.”

Jensen said he is planning on hiring additional staff, setting up an outside bar and even temporarily renaming his restaurant Ducktown USA for the 2016 Trials.

The Red Rooster Barber Shop has been cutting hair across from the University of Oregon campus for 43 years.  

Shop owner Pete Peterson has his business decked out in Tracktown USA memorabilia. Photos and posters of Steve Prefontaine welcome clients even before they enter the shop.

“People see the Prefontaine stuff here at the shop and they have to come in and talk,” said Peterson. “When they find out that Pre was actually getting his haircut in here, they just become friends.”

He said their hyper local business has served a global cliental during previous Olympic Trials.

“It’s the most wonderful thing that could happen, especially in the summer time,” Peterson said as he was giving a client a trim Thursday afternoon. “It increases the business in the area. We meet people from all over the country—from all over the world.”