Olympic Trials provide local businesses with economic boom

Posted by Sam Stites on Monday, Jun. 18 at 11:09 am.

The Olympic Trials bring excitement and delirium to the Eugene area with athletes and spectators pouring in from all areas of the country. Apart from the spectacle of many notable track and field figures, the trials offer the University area with other benefits outside of Hayward Field.

The organization Travel Lane County has estimated that the Olympic Trials will bring in big money to local businesses that would usually see a slump in sales during the summer due to most students being absent. Lisa Lawton, director of community relations at Travel Lane County, said that the organization has based its calculations on the massive amount of out-of-state travelers the trials attracted back in 2008. She and local business owners are expecting similar effects this year.

“The economic impact that is estimated for the 2012 Olympic Trials is $31 million,” Lawton said. “We expect about 20,000 spectators and 7,500 festival guests, based mainly on visitors from out of the area.”

Local Track Town business owners are preparing for the economic boom in their own ways, each in anticipation of heightened traffic during the trials. Jason Boyer, co-owner of the Wild Duck Cafe, said that he and business partner Bob Jensen capitalized on the boom during the 2008 trials by holding events at their restaurant formerly known as the Villard Street Cafe.

Boyer explained that many vendors and small business owners that travel to Eugene to set up shop during the trials needed a place to call home. With extra space in front of their location, Jensen and Boyer decided to lease out their parking spaces to allow merchants a marketplace to showcase their products in collaboration with their restaurant.

“We handled the marketing aspect different than most other businesses,” Boyer said. “We brought people in through more tactile strategies.”

Boyer said that he plans to market his restaurant in the same fashion this year by extending their patio and allowing vendors to sell their products outside the Wild Duck Cafe.

“We’re elated with the opportunity to have the Olympic Trials so close. The trials are one of the biggest things for the business owners in Eugene,” Boyer said. “We expect to have a great time over the next two weeks.”