The Olympic trials dust Eugene with a little gold

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Friday, August 01, 2008

EUGENE While athletes at last month’s track and field Olympic trials in Eugene competed for gold medals, area business also got a bit of gold.

The Convention and Visitors Association of Lane County estimated about  75,000 visitors would inject $28 million into the local economy and “we’ve met or even exceeded that amount,” says spokeswoman Lisa Lawton.

Initial concerns surfaced in the first days of the 10-day event that it was too “self-contained” and that visitors were not venturing from the festival area to spend money in local businesses, says Dave Hauser, president of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce.

Lawton says ticketholders stayed close by the festival area located in and around Hayward Field at the University of Oregon because the event schedule was “packed.” But during the trials’ off days (July 1-2), tourists started to spread out and spend. For example, Sweet Cheeks Winery reported a 50% increase in sales compared to the same time period last year, says Lawton.

Eugene also plans to host the 2012 trials.                 

JASON SHUFFLER


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