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 didn’t reply immediately. Radio silence from the Armory as well. “The busiest facility of its kind, the (New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory) hosts more than 100 track meets annually,” says the Armory. “More than 125,000 athletes of all ages visit and compete in the Armory each year.”

Kidlets await gun at first Thursday Night at the Races event of the 2014 indoor season.

Kidlets await gun at first Thursday Night at the Races event of 2014. Photo from ArmoryTrack.com, unknown photographer.


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 he’s known to critics) made $202,000 in the year ended June 30, 2012. I’ve never had much admiration for Sander. In 2007, he reneged on hosting the USATF indoor masters nationals (because it didn’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 doesn’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:

I’ve noticed it is much more expensive to use indoor arenas. Even when we had the Sunkist meet at … 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. … 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 doesn’t show a sanction for the Jan. 9 meet.)

Thursday night’s meet, the first of four, attracted 230 runners, says the results summary. The meet offered only three events — 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 let’s say $5,000 was raised. Does that sound reasonable? Where does the money go? Any charitable purpose befitting NYRR or the Armory’s 501(c)3?

I welcome an explanation from any of the organizers.

Meanwhile, what’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?

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January 9, 2014

29 Responses

  1. Bill Zink - January 9, 2014

    NYC is expensive. There is no getting around it. That’s what I’d expect to pay. NYRR road races are not cheap either. A new indoor facility was being built in Staten Island. Does anyone know the status after Hurricane Sandy? Here is an old article: http://www.silive.com/opinion/editorials/index.ssf/2011/12/off_and_running_at_last.html

    It will probably be just as expensive to race there if it ever gets completed.

  2. al cestero - January 9, 2014

    one of my track & field buddy’s from new york city (who’s name shall remain silent ) has routinely told me of the goings on of the armory, and other track governing bodies in nyc… and there’s always a soap opera , and it’s never pretty ….as i approach my 60th birthday, never having stopped competing since freshman year in hs , some 45-46 consecutive years, and since being a submaster through now some 29-30 years as a masters, it does amaze me that we have a first rate arena at princeton and the armory, and have yet to have an indoor nationals at either..because they charge too much.. a real pity..best wishes for a great 2014..!! whoops.i stand corrected..i attended indoor nationals 1984 princeton as a 30 year old taking a silver to fred samara in the m30 long jump

  3. Credibility Gap - January 10, 2014

    Because of this website’s on-going bullying tactics, which include publishing of business emails that aren’t intended to be made public, the author has caused a lot of people to simply not deal with his obnoxious self.

    He is a large reason why folks in the track community do not want to deal with the masters-level folks. Being entitled and bitter and without much opportunity to provide financial return is no way to conduct business.

    If the masters’ crowd wants credibility, it should probably disengage from this self-serving blowhard.

  4. Nolan Shaheed - January 10, 2014

    To Credibility Gap-
    Can you please refer by name the person you suggest as obnoxious and self-serving blowhard who is entitled and bitter. And please clarify the “bullying” website.

    At first it appeared that you were referring to Ken Stone and masterstrack.com, however, you took the time to engage an opinion here and I’m sure you want credibility for it.

  5. Rick Easley - January 10, 2014

    Indoor track meets and indoor track facilities are very hard to come by in my neck of the woods (East Texas) so I would gladly pay $25 to have access to an indoor facility of the caliber of the Armory (but that’s just me).
    I agree with Nolan. If you are going to make a personal attack on someone, at least have the guts to sign your name to it. I appreciate the time and the service that Ken puts into this site. I am sure that he is not getting rich from his efforts. If you don’t like the site then provide one of your own to your own specifications. I for one check this site daily and appreciate it as a source of information.

  6. Credibility Gap - January 10, 2014

    My reference is to the author of the story, who doesn’t post a byline but I assume is Ken Stone. I also see that he has stolen an image from the Armory website without credit (and likely without permission). His headline references the “late” fee and he fails to mention that there is much more to the offerings than a spot on a track.

    This is shoddy blogging, which is a far lower standard than shoddy journalism. It is vendetta web publishing.

    Quit stealing images from people you do nothing but criticize because you didn’t have a decent business model seven or eight years ago.

  7. Doug Spencer - January 10, 2014

    To Credibility Gap, do you not have anything better to do ? I am thankful for this website and also agree with Rick & Nolan. GET A LIFE !!

  8. Kevin F Forde - January 10, 2014

    I ran at The Armory and paid the $20 online fee,it is what it is…….
    As for the back and forth on this matter I feel unless anybody puts their name to an opinion they wish to share their comments should NOT be printed,you have something to say fine,but “sack up” and put your name to it don’t hide in annonimoty….just my two pennies on the issue!

  9. Joseph Burleson - January 10, 2014

    To Credibility Gap: I have rarely heard the definition of “bullying” as defining honest reporting about a public event in which debatable issues were discussed. The reporter made fair note of the logical reasons why the venue would, in fact, need to charge the reported fees, as well as welcoming further input. Readers are welcome to join the discussion with facts, opinions, or even outrage. But “credibility”? Difficult to give Credibility Gap any cred.

  10. Ken Stone - January 10, 2014

    Hi, CG. Sorry about lack of photo credit. None was apparent. But I’ve updated the caption. I also linked several times to the Armory and NYRR, giving you free publicity. No charge.

  11. Greg Rice - January 10, 2014

    Great job Ken, eventually Truth over Power!
    You all do not know that this runs deep, deeper than deep!
    A microcosm of the Norby’s, NYRR and the Armory Foundations sense of community, philosophy and judgment.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/03/sports/new-york-city-marathon-will-not-be-held-sunday.html?_r=0
    Wilful Blindness?
    Where does all the money go?

  12. Rome - January 10, 2014

    I believe the issue is competition. There are not facilities that are willing to compete with the Armory. There’s an Indoor track in Brooklyn Armory, that isnt fully utilized. The new Staten Island Indoor track, with great management, will hopefully be the Armory’s biggest competition. I had a discussion with someone who’s been working on the project and I was told that the area will be a sports complex, complete with courts and a cross country course outside of the complex. The pricing will be the biggest feature as the complex will be treated as a recreation center. As a former employee of the Parks dept, I know for a fact the price is cheap and will attract A LOT of ppl.

  13. Ken Stone - January 10, 2014

    In case others don’t realize that I write every blog post (4,332 and counting), I’ve changed the motto to: Older, slower, lower: Ken Stone’s world and USA home page for adult age-group track and field

  14. Greg Rice - January 10, 2014

    Thank you Ken for having the courage to speak up!
    credibility gap you have absolutely NO credibility- small c for you- you are totally in the dark like many – or work with Norby- another or member of the regime- You are willfully blind-
    Ken is a man with high morals and integrity.

    Norby, The Armory Foundation Board of Directors, Community Board 12 and “Leaders”; Local, city, state, federal officials, corporate sponsors, individual donors, please read this article-then look up
    Wilful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan- then research what is really going on at the city’s armory- then start using your pen ear- with truth-

    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/03/nyregion/neighborhood-report-washington-heights-armory-homeless-shelter-social-center.html–

  15. chuckxc - January 10, 2014

    It was not long ago that these meets were only $5. But the Armory decided that the $25 “cover” charge was a minimum that had to be charged. I think the $20 on-line fee is fairly new, I could be wrong. Considering the venue and competition of this series and the fact that you can double at no extra fee, I think that $25 is OK (barely).

  16. John - January 11, 2014

    The Armory is a great facility. Considering the cost of a round of golf,
    a tennis court reservation, adult basketball or hockey league dues etc,
    I don’t think 25 dollars is too much to pay for a night of great competition in NYC!!

  17. Terry Ballou - January 11, 2014

    I raced at the armory this past Thursday night (in fact, I’m in the photo, second from the left!) and I have no problem with the $20 entry fee ($25 for day-of registrants). Hands-down, this is the best indoor track I’ve ever run on (and having run HS, college, and now masters track I’ve run on many). Just stepping onto this track makes you feel fast. The entry allows you to enter any or all events (there were three the night I raced); you get FAT timing, great competition, helpful officials, and an awesome DJ!!! I know it may be pricey for some, but when you consider the cost of just entering a local 5K, I think it is still a good deal.

  18. Bill Zink - January 11, 2014

    Rome, Thanks for the info on the Statan Island facility. It will great to have another first class track in NYC. Looking forward to racing there.

  19. Bob - January 11, 2014

    I think the fee is too high. But…
    I think Cred attacking Ken & this website was pretty pathetic. Then again sometimes “nonprofits” can have some rather questionable practices and characters attached. I worked many times for various “non profits” in my career and found that sometimes they did so well that the salaries of the people running them had to be raised substantially to remain “non profit”. The president of a small civic light opera i worked for had to be paid 7 million one year. That was a couple of decades ago and i am sure some law has been tightened but as i was told “do not think non profit means no money”
    I think Ken publishing too many financial details made someone uncomfortable. Good. While some people have no problem with the fee amount, it is nice to put it into context with the amounts received. and by whom.

  20. Ken stone - January 12, 2014

    T&FN message board has other views on this issue:
    http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/discussion/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=52836

  21. Ken stone - January 12, 2014

    Letsrun.com message board also has a thread (that I started):
    http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?board=1&id=5575253&thread=5575253

  22. Patrick Toland - January 12, 2014

    Just wanted to say I really enjoy this site, and like Kens articles where he puts his personality into it. There are not many websites on masters track, and I really appreciate the efforts Ken puts into this one.

    Regarding the Armory, don’t forget the cost of the GW Bridge (13 bucks?) Parking (meters if you can get them or the lot down the street) – could run from 5-30 bucks… or public transportation – but hey, that’s NYC. I live in Jersey, and can’t wait to go throw there next month as they re-did the throwing area.

    To Credibility Gap – Have the balls to put your name on your pathetic post. Have a problem with that? Say it to my face. SIGNED Patrick Toland.

  23. Mark Cleary - January 13, 2014

    Many athletes don’t have a clue as to how much it costs to put on a meet. I put on a two day Region meet and it costs roughly $6,500-so when your only getting approx. 150 athletes out to compete, you begin to understand why entry fee’s are what they are- if you want to pay less get more of your friends involved in Masters Track & Field.

  24. Ken Stone - January 14, 2014

    Mark, have you considered cutting the Western regionals to one day (as tradition held for many years)? That might up the body count and lower costs.

  25. al cestero - January 14, 2014

    i wonder how much we’ed pay to play baseball in yankee stadium…?? i know i’d gladly fork over $25. how about you…???

  26. Mark Cleary - January 15, 2014

    Ken, if you are a serious athlete and are going to Nationals you can not prepare the body for a 4 day Nationals off a one day Region Meet. I put this meet on two weeks before the National meet so the many serious athletes in our Region can be ready for a superb Nationals-so as long as we can it will stay a two day meet.

  27. Greg Rice - January 19, 2014

    Thank you Ken for all you do on this blog.

    I believe as Track Stars/Leaders/Athletes we are Role Models, yes, Role Models as Leaders for our Sport and our Community. I can argue all day about the high fees but to me, and I believe, in part, Ken that is not the major point here.

    As a professional that works in this community I am asking you to please take your eye off of the track and the $20-$25 for a long moment and look at the bigger issue (it is deeper than deep).

    Ken has been trying to educate us about this issue for the past few years. Norby and the Armory Foundation are depicted at Visionary, and as Saviors by the media -that is clearly Not the case- to the contrary.

    Ken thank you for your great work at educating people about integrity and leadership?

    We admire Ken because he is not only interested in track; he is dedicated to Truth over Power, honesty and integrity and helping communities in need. Ken may be trying to help you open your Eyes to a bigger issue. Do you understand Credibility Gap? As a reminder we all know you are Willfully Blind.

    The Armory was created for track AND Community programs. it was also meant to be according to the New York Times (1993), by Emily Bernstein, as a place of social change. Has this happened?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/03/nyregion/neighborhood-report-washington-heights-armory-homeless-shelter-social-center.html

    We understand the fee issue please explore the bigger issues; willful blindness, leadership, integrity and our communities in need. Look into the question.

    Where is the monies (25 million) that was partly supposed to be for community programs for the past 2 decades go? We ask you to follow that?

    Like Ken asks, Where does the money go?

  28. Rick - January 21, 2014

    As a 56 year old male, I struggle to find one or two indoor meets in NE Kansas. With our winters, I would gladly pay $20-$25 several times a year to run indoor track. I have yet to find an indoor track to practice on! The running laps at the local YMCA/Fitness Centers are typically 25/laps to the mile. This does not help an aging sprinter with suspect knees, hamstrings, hips, ankles, etc.!

    On the other subject, “Ken” and this web page. I appreciate both. I think Ken occasionally makes pointed remarks but it is his Blog and he is entitled to his opinion! (I also know he welcomes counter views.)

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