Parker Morse hit the proverbial nail on the head with this comments about Moncton in the rain and the pricing of Des Moines tickets. What do you think? Email us at email@example.com.
There’s one thing no meet can market against, and that’s rain. There
are plenty of stadia with significant fractions of the stands covered,
but those are generally Olympic-scale edifices in major European or
Asian metropolitan areas. In this continent, if it rains on a track
meet, odds are excellent that the fans will be not just wet, but
(The two exceptions which come to mind are Icahn Stadium in New York
City, which kept a capacity crowd relatively dry through the
torrential thunderstorm that postponed Usain Bolt’s first 100m World
Record in 2008, and Hayward Field in Eugene, a stadium which is
recognizable largely for its roofs.)
Stade de Moncton is largely uncovered, although more of it is
undercover than, say, the Alex Spanos Stadium in Sacramento where
USATF held two Olympic Trials. Thursday morning’s sessions here were a
mess, and it continued to rain throughout the afternoon.
This is an organizational nightmare, of course. The 2004 NCAA
Championships in Austin featured a thunderstorm on the first day which
forced a rescheduling of the entire meet from scratch (the Texas
stadium was completely uncovered, and lightning meant the entire
facility needed to be evacuated into the neighboring football stadium
during the storm), turning a four-day meet into a three-day. Moncton
organizers didn’t have to worry about lightning, so they made some
basic decisions. The men’s javelin qualifying was postponed by a few
hours. Women’s pole vault qualifying was pushed back to Friday. And
the track athletes and heptathletes went on like the postal service.
What the organizers couldn’t do was ask the spectators to come out to
a potentially soaking and cold stadium for the evening session, and
even though the rain had essentially stopped by the time competition
got underway, the turnout was underwhelming, particularly in view of
hometown hero Genevieve Lalonde’s steeplechase final. (Lalonde, as
I’ve described elsewhere, didn’t even medal, but it was unquestionably
her race from the Canadian perspective.) It might have been all the
easier for general-admissions ticket holders, sitting on the
completely uncovered east stands, to forego a potentially wet night
when they only paid CAD $10 for their tickets.
That leads to a rhetorical comparison. The U.S. team qualified for
this meet at the USATF Championships in Des Moines in June. Des Moines
is at least three times larger than Moncton and Drake Stadium notably
larger than the Stade de Moncton, at 10,000 capacity the largest venue
in Atlantic Canada.
And yet more Canadians braved the rain tonight to watch their hometown
heroine, Gen Lalonde, set a NACAC and Canadian national junior
steeplechase record, the first junior in the Western hemisphere to run
a sub-10:00 steeplechase, than Iowans came out to watch hometown
heroine Lolo Jones, one of the best hurdlers in the world, win a U.S.
title in Des Moines on a sunny Iowan afternoon.
I’m going to guess that the fact that tickets in Des Moines ran $30
per day, three times the going rate in Moncton, might have had
something to do with that.
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