Eugene restaurants train almost as hard as athletes to prepare for Olympic Trials

Ibrahim Hamide enjoys the trials because he gets to meet new people from out-of-town and he gets to showcase Eugene. Photo by Sara Mattison

EUGENE, Ore. - The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in July will bring in thousands of visitors ready to spend their money in the Eugene area.

According to Travel Lane County, the industry that receives the most revenue from the tourists is food and beverage.

Last summer, the NCAA Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships resulted in an estimated $8.5 million economic boost for Eugene.

The USA Track and Field Championships brought in about $6.9 million.

However, the Olympic Trials make those events look like cheap change. In the past, it's doubled those two revenues combined.

Travel Lane County expects the trials this year will generate about $37 million.

"Visitor spending around the county on an annual basis is almost $610 million or more. So we are excited to have big events like this one that really aid in the overall economic impact," said Andy Vobora, Travel Lane County public information officer.

Every four years since 2008, restaurants have felt the boost in sales during the trials.

"Everybody goes, 'We had a great weekend, did you?" Of course everybody did. So it's good for morale, it's good for the pocket book," said Ibrahim Hamide from Café Soriah.

"It goes from open to 2 o'clock in the morning and so it's a lot of work and it's a lot of fun and it's very much worthwhile," said Kathy Jenson from Wild Duck Café.

Hamide says it's worthwhile because he gets to meet new people from out-of-town and he gets to showcase Eugene.

Jenson says it's also about seeing familiar faces.

"It's like a class reunion. You just see them see each other and you're like wow, I haven't seen you in a while and they just get together," she said.

It's not just the athletes who train year-round for the event; the restaurants spend months preparing as well.

Businesses say they will be hiring additional staff for the influx of patrons.

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