Since 1914, the Millrose Games—the world's most famous indoor track and field meet—have been held on a midwinter Friday night in New York City's Madison Square Garden. But in the face of rising costs and dwindling crowds (the last time Millrose filled the Garden's 18,000-plus seats was '97), the 2012 stage will be the Armory Track and Field Center in upper Manhattan, which seats around 4,500 and is used only for track. "The Millrose Games deserve the best track possible, especially in this performance-driven sport with the Olympics just around the corner," says Norbert Sander, executive director of the Armory Foundation, which runs the Track and Field Center and began partnering with USATF in 2009 to run Millrose.
Undoubtedly the Armory's speedy 200-meter track will produce faster times than the Garden's notoriously slow 145-meter one. But the visibility that the Garden provided will be difficult to recreate. So USATF has decided that the $1 million it has put up for Millrose each year will not follow the meet uptown.
"Millrose [at the Garden] is to indoor track what the Boston Marathon is to marathoning," says USATF spokesperson Jill Geer. "It's hard, it's slow, but it's a throwback, and it's unique to track and field."