The Leon County Board of County Commissioners approved a $250,000 bid for Leon County to host the 2026 World Athletics Cross Country Championship during the last Board meeting on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
The deposit will come from the Division of Tourism fund. For the execution of the event, potential host communities must guarantee a minimum commitment of $1.75 million; this amount includes the $250,000 deposit.
It is expected that state and national partner organizations, corporate sponsorships, and additional revenue opportunities will offset the other event expenses.
Should the county be awarded the bid, the World Athletics Cross Country Championship will be held at Apalachee Regional Park (ARP). In January 2020, the Board approved renovations at the facility and the $2.7 million improvements were completed this past summer. The upgrades include multipurpose operations building/facility, permanent awards stage, permanent finish line structure, sidewalks, landscaping, and permanent signage.
Since 2009 the Leon County Division of Tourism has hosted nearly 70 large-scale meets and eight national championships with over $40 million in direct spending to the local economy. In addition, the park serves as the home cross country course to Florida State University, Tallahassee Community College, and Leon County Schools.
The 2021 cross country season will be the Division of Tourism’s most prominent and busiest season to date, hosting seven significant events, including the 2021 Division I NCAA National Championships on November 20, televised on ESPN.