USA Track and Field signs Nike deal

EUGENE, Ore. -- USA Track and Field can expect a significant windfall if Chicago wins the rights to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

CEO Doug Logan announced Friday that USATF had signed a key sponsorship deal with Nike through at least 2013, with an option to extend it through 2017 at "a significant increase" if Chicago is the 2016 host.

"I'm more than cheering. I'm actively advocating" the Chicago bid, Logan said.

Two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press it was valued at more than $10 million a year -- a 30 percent to 40 percent increase over the last sponsorship. They requested anonymity because the figures have not been publicly released.

While there is no conflict of interest in an American sports organization advocating an American city for the Olympics, the issue of sponsors getting involved in the bid process is touchy in Olympic circles.

They are not supposed to try to influence the bids, though Nike's willingness to consider extending the deal at greater cost if Chicago gets the Games is a statement of the obvious: There's more money to be made if the Olympics are held in the United States.

A McDonald's executive said as much in a speech last year but was quickly made to retract the statement for fear of reprisal from the International Olympic Committee.

Other parts of the Nike-USATF deal establish a "Project 30 Fund" to aid up-and-coming athletes as part of the sport's attempt to overhaul its structure and win 30 medals at the London Olympics.

Logan also said Nike was getting on board in trying to reshape the sometimes toxic relationship between athletes, agents and sponsors that many critics think prevents the sport from moving forward.

"To a certain degree, it starts to change the paradigm to better reflect the long-range focus of this business," Logan said.

A Nike spokesman said the company would not comment on the terms of the deal.

USATF also has a deal in place with Visa through 2013, and Logan said track is in decent shape, considering the economy.

"These are difficult times and I don't mean to minimize any of the problems out there," he said. "But I like our sport better than other sports and other businesses out there right now."