One of the characteristics of a revolution is change. Indoor track and field has had bastions for decades in the cities of Boston and New York. In New York, the impressario was and is Dr. Norb Sanders and his NY Armory. In Boston, it is the Reggie Lewis Center and the team, lead by Keith McDermott, that supports the sixty plus high school meets. In both cities, great facilities have risen from dreams and hard work. Neither center would have happened without many people asking hard questions and not relying on easy answers.
Like the saving of indoor prep track and field, which was what Sanders and McDermott have done in their respective cities, elite track and field on the indoor level was also saved. The rebirth of elite indoor track and field in Boston and the saving of the oldest indoor track meet in the U.S. involved one marketing company-Global Athletics & Marketing.
The renaissance of elite track and field in this country is due to many reasons, many people and groups. It has not been an easy battle. One of the reasons why Global Athletics has played such a huge part is because they have been able to answer many disparate needs through uniting many groups for a common cause.
Indoor track & field was in need of change by the late sixties. Just look back at old TFN issues and one will find concerns about indoor meets in Milwaukee, Philly, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles-all are gone.
Indoor Track & Field has had a renaissance in North America. Participation at the high school level is up in both cities and around the country in the typical strongholds of indoor track and field. In NY, over 70 events and nearly 100,000 athletes go through the Armory each year and in Boston, over 65 events and nearly 70,000 athletes go through the Reggie Lewis Center.
Each city has had champions of this part of the sport. Each city has had hard working coaches, parents and volunteers who believed in the athletes and the need for the indoor part of the sport. And each city had strong facilities that became the focal point of the sport-and like an octopus, spread the enthusiasm to other venues. In 2007 indoor season, high school participation is up over 120,000, the highest numbers in several decades. In 2009, one of the most important meets of the year, the Nike Indoor, will be moving from Maryland to the banked, fast home of the Reggie Lewis Center. The prep sport now has fast championship meets in both New York and Boston.
That is only part of the story. The sport has had a renaissance at the professional level. In Boston, the Reebok Boston Indoor is now in its second decade, and in New York, the Millrose Games will celebrate its 101rst year. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Tyson meet continues to grow and gain support, and the only soft part of the professional season is the national championships in Boston.
The national championships are weak because USATF, which has been astute enough to support a professional marketing team with both the Boston and New York professional meets ( and Fayetteville), has not changed its policies on the US indoor championships. The national champs are thrown upon the local USATF office, an office which is one of the top three (of 54) most proactive associaitons in the U.S., with little or no support, with no guaranteed athletes at the meet ( which builds up a possible star presence and sells tickets), and with little or no promotions. If you want to see where the sport has gone, go to the Reebok Boston Indoor, then three weeks later, go to the same facility and take a nap in the stands during the US Indoor Championships. The good news is that the Indoor champs can be successful, but it has to be changed. It also has to find someone who can focus on the meet and they need to be given a real budget and control-things that have not happened out of the Indy office.
The group that has saved professional indoor track and field in North America? Well that is none other than Global Athletics & Marketing, a Boston based athlete and event management team. In both cities, the team that saved professional indoor track was and is a Boston-based company, Global Athletics & Marketing. GAM is the savior of both the Reebok Boston Indoor Games and Millrose.
On Thursday evening, I will head to Boston for the Reebok Boston Indoor Meet, to be held January 26, 2008 at the Reggie Lewis Center, which is housed at the Roxbury Community College campus.
The RBIG will have two plus hours of the most competitive races seen anywhere in the world! A two hour plus entertainment package that major companies like Nutrilite, VISA, and Reebok want to be part of and pay serious dollars to reach the well healed, thoughtful consumers who come to track meets and who sell out the Reebok Boston Indoor Meet.
The success of Global Athletics & Marketing is because of first, a love of the sport, and second, a concern in presenting a professional sport. The renaissance of our sport began when critics of our sport realized that criticism is okay, but to improve the sport, one needs to ask hard questions, and one needs to shoot for the stars. Global has done that, from the athletes that they have chosen to represent to the events that they have chosen to champion.
Mark Wetmore, the founder of GAM, started the indoor Games and had about a thousand fans that year. In 2008, the meet has been sold out for a few weeks. Sponsors have come one, new ones each year. The event has the best signage and the responsive crowd tells the management team how the meet is going-if they had orchestrated the right series of events for that event.
The sign of a great entrepreneur is that he or she has the foresight to find great people to do the things he can not do, but also the ego to allow those people not only to thrive, but to do their jobs with excellence. In Rich Kenah, who handles marketing sales, to Barb Heubner, who deals quite deftly with media relations, to Page Pieroni, who manages the office and staff, to Sam Shaw, who manages event logistics, GAM has found great people to deal with tough problems. So much of an event's success is behind the scenes. So much of a meet's future success is the ability to make mistakes and learn from them. GAM has invested in human capital and that investment has paid off.
Every detail is debated and there is not much sleep that happens for any of the team for nearly two weeks-after this event on January 26, GAM goes to New York for next Friday's Millrose Games!
Their hard work gives thousands two amazing nights of track and field live plus millions who watch two of the venerable events of the indoor elite circuit on television or broadband.
The sport has changed and Global Athletics & Marketing has been one of the groups who foster that change. The sport is better for their support.
The 2008 Reebok Boston Indoor Games, the second stop in USA Track & Field’s Visa Championship Series, takes place on 26 January at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College.
For more on the Reebok Boston Indoor and Millrose, please check: http://www.globalathletics.com