Athletes Run, Spectators Sit Through the Heat at US Track and Field Championships

SACRAMENTO -- A major outdoor event kicks off on the day people are least likely to want to be outdoors. The USA Track and Field Championships began Thursday at Sac State, what's expected to be the hottest day of the year so far. However, if spectators stay home that could be bad news for the future of track and field events locally.

The type of elite athletes competing at the U.S. track and field championships don't seem to be the type to worry about the weather.

"I'm in a different zone. I may burn off my finger tips and burn my knees but I'm here to do a job," said three-time Olympic gold medalist Tianna Bartoletta.

But for people there to watch Bartoletta or other competitors, burned backsides from sitting on hot bleachers could be a real concern.

Sacramento Sports Commissioner Mike Sophia acknowledges spectators could be in for an uncomfortable day, but says there are some options for relief including shaded areas and misting zones.

Most of the spectators opted for what little shade was available Thursday, though there were some die-hard fans in full sunlight.

Sophia says the event brings at least $10 million to Sacramento but it's hard to put a true value on the expected positive publicity.

"This is an event that's broadcast around the country around the world so there's a lot of eyes on Sacramento this weekend," said Sophia.

With Sacramento in the running to host the Olympic trials, he hopes the temperatures don't discourage spectators from showing their support for track and field.

Sunday, Sacramento will make a final presentation to USA track and field in hopes of bringing the Olympic trials back to town.