University of Oregon proposes doubling state hotel tax to fund a track meet, seriously

Because you may not have already had your share of bizarre news coming out of Oregon the last few days, here’s this:

The University of Oregon favors doubling Oregon’s statewide lodging tax to help pay for the 2021 world track and field championships at Hayward Field, according to a draft proposal a UO lobbyist sent to Gov. Kate Brown in September.

Boosting the statewide room tax to 2 percent from its current 1 percent would yield at least $25 million to subsidize the Eugene event, according to the lobbyist’s memo.

There would also be an additional $15 million in state money for upgrading UO’s track stadium (rendering here), plus a few million for other things, including $7.2 million for prizes.

The University of Oregon is a public university, so its budget all ultimately comes from the state, but still, really, this is the best reason to raise hotel taxes by 1%, to fund a track championship? Will the track championship generate any significant revenue? (Not that that’s the only reason to hold one, but it’d at least help justify the insane cost.) Would having a revamped track stadium do anything for actual UO student-athletes? Do people in Oregon care more about a track meet than, say, ensuring that Oregon adjunct professors don’t have a higher poverty rate than the state overall?

I often wish I had the bandwidth to dig into the college sports business as deeply as pro sports, because it’s a whole other world of oblique subsidies and tangled priorities. In fact, if anyone reading this has time and interest in becoming an occasional FoS college sports correspondent, let’s talk — that’d be a nice goal for 2016.