Lawrence: Officials from USA Track & Field will be in Lawrence Monday through Wednesday, November 9 – 11, in a site evaluation visit that may ultimately bring the USATF Junior Olympic Championships to Lawrence in 2017.
The proposal to host the Junior Olympics in Lawrence has been a joint effort of eXplore Lawrence, the travel and tourism organization for Lawrence, its non-profit subsidiary Lawrence Sports Corporation, and the Missouri Valley USA Track and Field Association, according to Bob Sanner, eXplore Lawrence.
The Junior Olympic Championships, planned for July 23 – 30, 2017, would bring more than 9,500 young athletes, ages 8 to 18, and an estimated minimum of 33,000 family members and spectators to Lawrence and the surrounding area of northeast Kansas for a seven day stretch. The economic impact reported by former host cities has ranged from $17 to 22 million dollars, Sanner said. eXplore Lawrence has been working with other convention and visitors bureaus throughout the area, from Topeka and Atchison to Overland Park, Olathe and Kansas City, to secure hotel rooms for all the potential visitors.
Lawrence’s Rock Chalk Park would be the host venue for the event and officials will be focusing on the state-of-the-art facilities during their site visit, but they will also be looking at what the area offers the athletes and families when they are not competing. eXplore Lawrence has been highlighting the attractions of Lawrence and the surrounding area, Sanner said. “Lawrence and Northeast Kansas would see the economic benefit of more than 42,000 visitors through hotel rooms, restaurants, shopping and entertainment, gasoline sales and more.”
Junior Olympic Championship officials visiting Lawrence during the site evaluation visit are Linda Ellis, meet operations, Florence, S.C.; Harold Martin, head referee for Track, Dayton, Ohio; Norine Richardson, legal counsel, Chandler, Ariz; and Bruce Long, throw areas, Pittsburg, Pa. They will also be meeting with representatives from the City of Lawrence, Kansas Athletics and others while they are in town.
Following the site evaluation, the visiting USATF officials will submit their report to the youth membership of USATF. Although several cities submitted bids to host the 2017 event, the field has narrowed to two: Lawrence and Des Moines. In December, eXplore Lawrence and Missouri Valley USATF will make a formal presentation to more than 100 delegates from all over the country at USATF annual conference in Houston. Then Youth Chairs from each association will vote on the host city. Sanner said USATF will announce its decision before the end of the year as to whether Lawrence crosses the line first in this much-coveted race to host the 2017 Championships.
(Nov. 6, 2015)