Western Regionals in limbo after Carson bonks

Yes, we are chopped liver. How else to explain this latest indignity? Today, while checking on a meet date, I learned that the USATF Western Regional Masters Championships set for July 22-23 have no home. The venue is TBD — to be determined. For the past two years, the Western Regionals have been held on the superfast, Olympic-caliber Mondo track at the Home Depot Center in Carson, south of Los Angeles. This site, host of this weekend’s televised Adidas Track Classic, made a losing bid for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Now it’s treating masters like a bunch of losers. Andy Hecker’s site said of the meet: “No longer at Home Depot Center — the location is in the process of being changed. Details to follow.”

So I wrote some people for details.
Here’s what I learned from folks involved in the host Southern California Association of USATF:
“They have booked a professional lacrosse league and our charity-case event doesn’t make nearly enough money. I don’t know if there was any deliberate effort on their part to screw masters track. Home Depot is notorious for dragging their feet on signing contracts and living up to those contracts.
“Always, the renting party is charged a lot more at the end of the event. Among those, (one official) claims he was charged $339 as a cleaning charge after the meet. I was one of the last people off the track and that stadium was as close to spotless as it could be.
“To answer your question, Home Depot is only friendly to the almighty dollar. They have been so uninterested in the training programs and non-profit activity at the track, the signs declaring it to be an Olympic Training Facility have been removed.”
Occidental College was seen as a possible replacement venue — but it fell through yesterday, according to another source.
“I worked a meet there on Saturday and Troy Engle told me he was enthusiastic to have us there,” said another source. “Since then apparently Troy discovered he has to be in attendance at some High Performance event and he could not find an assistant who could supervise the facility.”
So a Southern California USATF official is “trying to pull strings at Long Beach State. . . . The problem is the administration has taken over renting the track –it’s now a revenue source. Read: . . . .We pay more money.”
So the bottom line is meet organizers are scrambling to find an affordable venue for what has been a two-day meet in recent years.
This, of course, should chap everyone’s hide. We had first dibs on those dates, and the Home Depot Center blithely said, “Adios, muchachos.”
Remember what was promised at the Home Depot three years ago?
Well, I’ll quote myself:
“The May-June issue of California Track & Running News contains a very intriguing article about the new track at the Home Depot Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson — intriguing because it mentions the M-word three times. M as in Masters. USATF’s Southern California Association has submitted a facilities use plan that includes what it calls “masters development events. ”
The plan includes a proposal to solicit youth, open and masters clubs within a 30-mile radius of Carson to apply to Southern California USATF to make the Home Depot Center their ‘home track,’ ” the article said.

Now we’re left out in the cold.
Needless to say, I don’t plan to attend any Home Depot Center events anytime soon — and hope you don’t either.
Meantime, we should learn in the next week or so where the Western Regionals will land. It’s a major tuneup for nationals and traditionally one of the biggest West Coast masters meets every season.
But this year, it’s an orphan. What a crying shame.

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May 18, 2006

5 Responses

  1. Rod Jett - May 18, 2006

    I’m only a teacher with a Master’s degree but does anybody think these things through? First of all why does the USATF Western region meet(region meets which exist for what purpose?) HAVE to be at the Home Depot Center in the first place. If you know they are “notorious for dragging their feet on signing contracts and living up to those contracts.” why risk dealing with them in the first place. Oh, I know, so that the 20000 people that come to watch Master’s meets will have somewhere to sit. Sometimes I think that part of the problem with being tied to USATF is that there seems to be a need to go above our means. If you’re going to have a meet that 500-1000 people are going to come see why have it in stadium that seats 20000? BTW Carson despite being mondo is not a very good track stadium, there are 3-4 high school stadiums in my hometown of Sacramento that are better track stadiums than that place and probably cost a lot less, so there have to be dozens of these kinds of stadiums in SoCal.

  2. Tom Fahey - May 18, 2006

    Boycott Home Depot
    I say we write to Home Depot and threaten to boycott their stores. Masters athletes are part of an important age group for Home Depot. They want their name associated with wholesome family activities. They have slapped their customers in the face. I say we signal our displeasure by not shopping in their stores. If each of us could convince 10 people to avoid Home Depot, they would be sorry they insulted us.

  3. Mark Cleary - May 18, 2006

    Rod, I checked several nice High School facilities and they are actually more expensive thaan Home Depot had charged us. If you haven’t delt with the different Track facilities you should not make sich assumptions. The reason we went to Home depot in the first place two years ago was because we thought it would be a draw–and it waswe set a record for the West Region Meet with 368 athletes the second largest meet to the Nationals held in Decatuer that year–we were down 65 athletes last year but still had a great turn out considering the Nationals were in Hawaii two weeks later and the Worlds were in Spain shortly after that.Just thought I would shine a little light on the subject–Mark Cleary

  4. Mark Cleary - May 18, 2006

    Tom I like your idea the only way to get the point across is stage such a boycott–Mark Cleary

  5. Liz Palmer - May 21, 2006

    I’ve found from past experience (track and other) that organizations and clubs that invest in the community through volunteering efforts, charities, and fund-raisers are generally able to locate a local facility for their events at a greatly reduced cost.

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