Kevin Jones couldn’t wait to purchase tickets for the 2016 World Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The meet is being held at the Oregon Convention Center and the Moda Center, March 17-20. It’s the second time ever it has taken place in the U.S., and the first time since 1987.
“When they first announced the World Indoor was coming to Portland my heart skipped a beat,” said Jones, a Communications Studies professor at George Fox University in Newberg and a lifelong track & field fan.
“It’s on my bucket list.”
Jones logged onto the Portland 2016 website when tickets went on sale, and was hit with sticker shock.
The cheapest available ticket is $225 for second level seats on the turn. Second-level seats on the straight are $295. Seats on the lower bowl are $385.
Buyers have to purchase a package for all three days of competition in the convention center. The pole vault will be a free, stand-alone event on March 17 in the Moda Center.
“I thought, ‘Wow, how can I justify this?'” Jones said. “I could go by myself. Or, if I take my wife or daughter, it would be $600. I can take my wife and daughter to Mt. Hood and rent a cabin for that.
“I’m disappointed. I know this is big. I know they have to build a track. But I thought they would generate enough corporate sponsorship to keep the prices down.”
So Jones has demurred, at least for now.
If responses to a recent Oregonian/OregonLive.com story about slow ticket sales for the World Indoor Championships are any indication, he isn’t alone.
Vin Lananna is president of the TrackTown USA organizing committee, which is staging the meet.
Lananna said TrackTown USA looked at comparable events, such as Portland Trail Blazers games, the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track & Field, and other world championships events to guide its pricing decisions.
“Granted, I’m a track guy,” Lananna said. “But I think this is a unique event for the state of Oregon and the city of Portland.”
The temporary arena in the convention center will seat 7,000. Some seats were set aside for corporate sponsors and officials of the International Association of Athletics Federations, the governing body for international track & field.
Lananna didn’t become involved in this to turn a profit for TrackTown USA. But he also doesn’t want to go deep into the red.
“We have to run the meet,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure all the ‘Is’ are dotted and the ‘Ts’ are crossed so that we can put on a good event.”
Lananna said TrackTown USA wanted fans willing to purchase all-session tickets to get first crack at the best available seats.
At some point, he said, remaining single-session tickets will go on sale.
Tickets for the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships, which are scheduled for the Oregon Convention Center on March 11-12, are not yet available.
“That will be a more affordable ticket, and single-session tickets will be available,” Lananna said.
Jones, who has attended every U.S. Olympic Trials for Track & Field since 1984, will be waiting and watching for a cheaper way into the World Indoor.
“If I can grab a single-session ticket,” he said, “yeah, I’ll be interested.”