EUGENE, Ore. – Adidas has invaded the birthplace of Nike.
Crews preparing for this week's world junior track championships at Hayward Field covered the Nike swooshes and pinned Adidas posters to the fence alongside the track, The Register-Guard newspaper reported (http://is.gd/m4SjuJ ).
Adidas can take that action in Nike's hometown because of its sponsorship deal with the International Association of Athletics Federation.
As part of the sponsorship, the German multinational receives a "clean venue" at Hayward Field, free of its rivals' logos.
The agreement does stop short of throwing a paper bag over the statue of Bill Bowerman, the Nike co-founder and legendary University of Oregon track coach.
Athletic clothing and shoe companies spend a lot of money to sponsor sporting events, where their brands are seen by fans in the stadium and the broader television audience.
"It's a normal branding policy that you see at all major events," said Vin Lananna, the former University of Oregon track coach who is now president of TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee.
As lead sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene in 2008 and 2012, the Nike swoosh reigned supreme at Hayward Field. Nike's rivals weren't even allowed in the gates of the Fan Festival area set up near the track.
Matt Powell, a footwear industry analyst, said Phil Knight, the Nike co-founder and major University of Oregon benefactor, probably is not pleased with the current turn of events.
"This is the birthplace of Nike, right? I'm sure it does stick in his throat," he told the newspaper.
Nike and Adidas "compete in the business world and on the field every day," he added. "You can count on them keeping score of who wins."
Although Adidas' partnership with IAAF removes the Nike logo off the video board and other fixtures at Hayward Field, it doesn't control what the athletes wear. Teams have various contracts with sponsors and so do individual athletes.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com