USA Track & Field is vehemently opposed to it.
Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK — Officials of the Armory Foundation, the not-for-profit organization which has the operating rights to the Millrose Games, confirmed yesterday here that the 105th edition of the United States’ oldest indoor track meet would move to the Armory in Upper Manhattan after more than a century at Madison Square Garden.
“The Millrose Games deserves the best track possible especially in this performance-driven sport with the London Summer Olympics just around the corner,” said Dr. Norbert Sander, president of the Millrose Games and the Armory Foundation. “The Armory is just that exceptional place to compete for professionals, collegiate, and high school stars in the modern track era.”
It is indisputable that the Armory is the central hub of indoor track and field in the United States. The facility, which has undergone $50 million in renovations over the last 18 years, annually hosts more than 100 track meets, and has hosted over 1000 track meets during that time. The giant red brick structure in the Washington Heights neighborhood boasts a banked 200-meter Mondo track which athletes have praised for it’s fast surface.
Sander’s team envisions a very different format for the next edition of the Millrose Games. Instead of a Friday night meet which would sometimes stretch until midnight, the Armory version will take place on Saturday, January 28, and feature a day session with more college, high school, open and masters events leading up to the traditional Millrose schedule from 5-9 p.m. concluding with the meet’s signature Wanamaker Mile. Sander said that the facility can accommodate a total of 8,000 spectators for both sessions.
“Unlike the previous tight Friday night schedule, the Saturday format allows for more athletes to experience these great games, a true New York and national tradition,” Sander argued. “Most importantly let us not forget the tremendous contributions made to the sport by Madison Square Garden, the Howard Schmertz family who oversaw this wonderful event there for many, many years and USA Track & Field.”
The move to the Armory is controversial, and is not supported by USA Track & Field, which owns the 145.5-meter Mondo track used at Madison Square Garden and had propped the meet up with a direct investment of about $1MM which allowed for the recruitment of elite athletes and bought network television time.
“The Millrose Games and Madison Square Garden are inextricably linked,” USATF communications chief Jill Geer told the New York Times earlier this week. “If Millrose goes to the Armory, it will go without USA Track and Field.”
Through a press release, Sander said that the move had significant support in the track and field community. Agent Ray Flynn, still the Irish record holder for the mile, said: “I am excited that the Millrose Games will be moving to the Armory. I’m confident that its rich history and legacy will be preserved and celebrated there.”