After last week’s 2014 USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, California the sport is again engaged in a dialogue regarding presentation venues. Eugene versus Sacramento is the current exchange with Indianapolis, Des Moines, and Palo Alto also in the conversation as recent championship host sites.
Eugene is Eugene, Tracktown USA. Say what you will about Big Swoosh, the folks in Oregon understand track and field, and know how to present it. The 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene felt like a major sporting event. The stands were full, and a fan festival was erected right outside to entertain and inform the casual fan.
By comparison, despite the attendance figures released –- 32,783 over four days –- Sacramento’s Hornet Stadium on the campus of Sacramento State University looked consistently empty on the backstretch, and only two-thirds to three-quarters filled on the homestretch throughout the four days of competition. Some of that may be attributed to the heat that bakes Sacramento each summer. Who but the most rabid fans want to sit out in triple-digit heat for hours on end? (Though it was only in the 80s till the final day).
Others point out that Hornet Stadium is larger than Hayward Field , 21,000 capacity versus 10,500 (though expandable to 21,000). So while it might seem emptier, there may in fact be more people in attendance than one realizes. This argument only reminds us of the role perception plays and how important staging and presentation is. (more…)