Thursday Night at the Gouges: Armory all-comers charges $25
New York is expensive, everyone knows. But $25 to enter a nonsanctioned all-comers meet? Most such events charge $5, but rarely over $10. (Even the Oregon TC meets at hallowed Hayward Field ask a maximum of $3.) But the famed Armory track in Manhattan has a series of Thursday Night at the Races meets that cost $20 for online registration and $25 for day-of-meet entry. Why? I have no idea. I wrote to meet director Tim Fulton of New York Road Runners, and he didnâ€™t reply immediately. Radio silence from the Armory as well. â€śThe busiest facility of its kind, the (New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory) hosts more than 100 track meets annually,â€ť says the Armory. â€śMore than 125,000 athletes of all ages visit and compete in the Armory each year.â€ť
The Armory Foundation, headed by the sainted Dr. Norbert Sander, is a nonprofit that does very well. Its 2012 IRS report says it made $1.35 million on track events and $632,000 on venue rental. Net assets that year: $10.3 million.
Norby (as heâ€™s known to critics) made $202,000 in the year ended June 30, 2012. Iâ€™ve never had much admiration for Sander. In 2007, he reneged on hosting the USATF indoor masters nationals (because it didnâ€™t pencil out, he said.) In 2009, I reported how Norby illegally fired a couple longtime employees, including a masters sprinter (Sharon Warren).
My friend Andy Hecker, an expert on all-comers meets, is a meet director himself who used to post a calendar of all-comers meets nationwide. I wrote for his take on the $20 entry fee.
Andy doesnâ€™t know why the Armory or NYRR are charging as much as $25 to run on a 200-meter Mondo track, but he told me:
Iâ€™ve noticed it is much more expensive to use indoor arenas. Even when we had the Sunkist meet at â€¦ the [Los Angeles] Sports Arena, it was like $10K just to rent the place. They would rather the place sit dormant than to open the doors to people. Of course, it gets more expensive to rent any track each year. Very few places are benevolent. â€¦ Very few places will rent under $2000 these days. I could name you a hundred all weather tracks that are not making a dime on any given weekend, but if there is money to be paid, they want 4 figures to open the gate.
The Armory all-comers have attracted masters stars, and records have been set. But with the absence of USATF sanction, I doubt there will be any attempts this season. (The USATF calendar doesnâ€™t show a sanction for the Jan. 9 meet.)
Thursday nightâ€™s meet, the first of four, attracted 230 runners, says the results summary. The meet offered only three events â€” 600 meters, 1000 meters and the 2-mile run. Lots of heats, but pretty much bang-bang-bang. No field events. No blocks needed either.
If everyone registered online, the meet made $4,600. If everyone paid when they showed up, the take would have been $5,750. So letâ€™s say $5,000 was raised. Does that sound reasonable? Where does the money go? Any charitable purpose befitting NYRR or the Armoryâ€™s 501(c)3?
I welcome an explanation from any of the organizers.
Meanwhile, whatâ€™s your opinion? Would you pay $20 to run at the home of the Millrose Games? How much do you usually pay for all-comers meets?