New Balance Rescues Boston Indoor Games

Annual event will take place on February 5.

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

For months rumors had swirled that Reebok had withdrawn their financial support for the Boston Indoor Games, which athlete’s agent and meet director Mark Wetmore had built over the last 15 years into one of the top invitational athletics meetings in the United States, indoors or out.  No official announcements had been made, and some within the running industry feared that the meeting would not take place at all.

Those fears were put to rest yesterday when the meet’s Facebook page posted an encouraging press release.

“Organizers announced today that the Boston Indoor Games will return to Boston’s Reggie Lewis Track & Athletics Center on Saturday, February 5th,” read the release.  ”Well, sort of.  The 16th annual track and field meet, one of the best events of its kind in the United States, will have a new name– the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.”

In yet another example of its growing influence in American athletics, New Balance has been snapping up properties while others have been in retreat.  Already the sponsor of this month’s New Balance Games in New York City, and recently named the title sponsors of the USA high school indoor championships in March (renamed the New Balance Indoor Nationals) and the New Balance Falmouth Road Race in August, running marketing manager Josh Rowe has led the company’s continuing push into event and athlete sponsorships, despite the lingering recession.

“New Balance is excited to become title sponsor of the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix,” Rowe stated in the release.  ”This event is one of the best indoor meets in the world and it is right in our backyard, here in Boston.  Serving as the title sponsor of this event is an effective way for us to showcase our Team New Balance athletes and further support the sport of track and field both locally and globally.”

The meet, which began in 1996, has hosted more then 100 world and Olympic championships medallists, and has played host to six world records, nine American records and 19 other national records.  The first two editions of the meet were simply called the “Boston Indoor Games,” but in 1998 New Balance came on board as title sponsor and the meeting name changed to the New Balance Invitational (Race Results Weekly did a live text-based webcast of the meet which is still posted at http://www.raceresultsweekly.com/nbinvite.htm).  The meet remained the “New Balance Invitational” through 2001, then adidas picked up the title sponsorship in 2002, and the meet became known as the “adidas Boston Indoor Games.”  That name held through 2004, then Reebok took over in 2005 and would sponsor the next six editions.

Wetmore, later working with Rich Kenah after the 1997 world championships 800m bronze medallist retired from competition, has been at the helm of the meet from inception.  He was clearly pleased to see New Balance step in, even if only 25 days before the meet is scheduled to be held.

“We are excited about this new multi-year relationship with New Balance and our new Indoor Grand Prix,” Wetmore said through a statement.  ”You can count on the 2011 event delivering the same type of athlete performance and excitement to Boston area track fans.”

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