VIDEOS OF PRESS CONFERENCE:
USATF CEO Doug Logan
Armory Foundation President Dr. Norbert Sander
The Armory Foundation and USA Track and Field have formed a partnership to save the historic Millrose Games, Armory Foundation president Dr. Nobert Sander, Jr. and USATF CEO Doug Logan announced at the New Balance Track and Field center today.
“Today we’re coming together to pull together in an effort to insure the future of the Millrose Games,” Sander said.
The Millrose Games is the oldest invitational track and field competition in the country spanning beyond 102 years. For the past four years, Mark Wetmore, president of Global Athletics and Management, has led the competition as meet director. For 70 years before the Schmertz family directed the meet after Fred Schmertz took charge in 1934 and turned the meet over to his son, Howard, in 1975. Howard Schmertz became meet director emeritus in 2003.
But the meet has been falling in attendance, entertainment level and competition even with Wetmore's efforts to add some more excitement to the meet, showcasing the shot put and adding a collegiate 4x800, for examples. Logan though, who took over as CEO of USATF last year, already has proved to be a tough character that’s committed to returning track and field to the public eye and away from the grips of traditionalists.
“I will tell you and pledge to you that not only are we not going to lose this iconic event in the sport of track and field but we are going to make it better.”
Both Sander and Logan said that there would be a push to give the meet a more local appeal and that they would improve the schedule, marketing and atmosphere of the event while keeping at Madison Square Garden.
“Not everyone on the team I inherited is on board with all the things we want to try here with this event but it doesn’t matter because I am,” Logan said.
Sander also announced that 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Derrick Adkins, will serve as associate director of the Millrose Games. An advisory committee has been formed to assess and improve the quality of the meet which includes NBC’s Larry Rawson, Howard Schmertz, New York Road Runners’ president Mary Wittenberg. Dan Biederman, a pioneer in public and private urban management and who is responsible for the renovation of Byrant Park on 42nd street, was named chairman of the Millrose Games advisory board.
Sander made some of his suggestions public during the reception attended by a room of track and field aficionados. He suggested allowing more local runners in the into the invitational high school mile races, securing more competitive college races and accentuating the Millrose Trials at the Armory Jan. 13, possibly including trial races for the high school mile and even a qualifying race for the Wanamaker Mile, the signature event at the Millrose Games. He said the committee’s goal is to fill every seat at the Garden and including more area athletes would give incentive for fans to personally connect with the competition.
Seton Hall coach John Moon raised an issue of the standardizing the index of the track at MSG, which would allow for teams to have a legalized conversion time on the undersized track that’s 11 ½ laps to a mile, a problem that Sander said he would address with the committee. Moon said since the times run at the Millrose Games aren’t accepted for qualifying for the NCAA championships, it discouraged college coaches from bringing their best relays or coming at all.
“We will make this event better,” Logan said, “and we’re not just limited to one year or two years. But we’re in this for the long haul.”
(top photo from l. to r.: Derrick Adkins, Mike Frankfurt, Doug Logan, Dr. Norbert Sander, Jr., Bob Mulligan, Howard Schmertz, Rich Kenah, Mary Wittenberg).
Derrick Adkins, Director of Track and Field at The Armory, 1996 Olympic Champion - 400m hurdles
Mike Frankfurt, Chairman of the Board - The Armory Foundation
Doug Logan, CEO USA Track and Field
Dr. Norbert Sander, president of The Armory Foundation, past winner of the NYC Marathon
Bob Mulligan, Chairman of the Millrose Committee
Howard Schmertz, long time meet director of The Millrose Game
Rich Kenah, Global Athletics
Mary Wittenberg, CEO New York Road Runners and race director for the ING NYC Marathon