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Would you pay to see a track meet?

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Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by EugeneRunner on Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:22 pm

I'm just curious if anyone here has or would buy a ticket to watch a track meet. When I ran track and cross country growing up in California, it was rare for parents to even come to watch. When the distances races began, even the other track athletes would leave. But here in Oregon there are actual track fans, and a full season of track tickets this year at Hayward Field costs over $400 per seat.

I'm thinking this is a phenomena that only applies to Eugene, Oregon, or maybe to a smaller extent indoor meets in NYC and Boston - and the Penn Relays. It seems odd to me that there are so many runners in the US, but very few seem to actually be fans of the competitive side of the sport.

So, are you a fan, and if so would you actually pay to see an event?
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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by twal on Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:06 pm

It depends on who's running. To see world class runners, I'd pay about $20. Problem is that I would need to go to NYC or Philly to see such athletes and that's probably $100.

High school races only attract family members and college races attract no one. Our sport doesn't do a great job promoting its stars, except for someone like Usain Bolt.

I'll bet things are a bit different in Eugene where you can actually see world class runners in your home town.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by Marc Thayer on Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:10 pm

When I lived there Alberto kicked my butt (he ran a local 10K out by LCC that I was was running)....and I watched Prefontaine in his last season of XC... but no way was I payin' to watch.

Even back then I was channelling my inner Gary E.

It's a different world in Eugene.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by RoadKillBill on Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:40 pm

Track doesn't work for me as a spectator sport.  The formula is too simple: fastest guy wins.  I prefer to watch sports with more variables, like luck, strategy, changing weather conditions, ball turnovers, etc. I've watched my kids' swim and track meets, but that's all.  I respect other folks' interest in the sport and I think top performers deserve the attention, I just can't personally muster those things.

I can get into hanging around at endurance events like marathons, adventure races and triathlons - those are a bit more like parades.  Smile 

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by Sumorunner on Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:13 am

The only one I ever went to with admission fee was in Meadowlands NJ, 1983, where Eamonn set a world indoor mile record. Got to see many top flight runners at that one too, Salazar, Carl Lewis, etc. I didn't have to pay for it though since we had a corporate relay team entered and the company paid.

There is no way there could be any such thing up in Albany. Only NYC has enough T&F fans for that. We have a couple T&F series here every summer. They are very well attended young and old, but spectators are sparse.

One series, Empire Liberty meets (Adirondack USATF) is popular with local kids track clubs, but also has all ages. They do maybe 5 or 6 each year and they're pretty well managed. There is also one indoor meet in winter. I don't know much about that one.

The other is the Town of Colonie all-commers. It's been held 9 or 10 weeks every summer since 1969. I did some research a while back and found the only other similar series older that that is in, guess where, Eugene OR. I've probably done 100 of these. Ran everything from 100m to 2 miles plus shot and discus.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by EugeneRunner on Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:11 pm

Even for a hard-core track junkie like me, I think there is too much track here in Eugene. So I bought tickets to the college season, the Pre Classic, and NCAA championships, but I'm skipping the World Junior Championships. I think only here would 6,000 people pay money to watch a trivial, college rust-buster meet, in the cold rain in March.

I certainly agree that track isn't a great spectator sport. The meets are too long, and the events don't fit together into a single sporting event. The TV coverage is absolutely awful, which doesn't exactly encourage people to go see it. It is dramatically more exciting live, especially with a big, enthusiastic crowd.

As for Bill's comment that "the fastest guy wins" there is some truth to that, but especially in the distance races that isn't true a lot of the time. There aren't as many variables as football for example, but there is still a lot of strategy and drama. The problem again is there is no way for the average spectator to appreciate that. But it does seem like an avid runner would follow the sport enough to make it interesting to watch.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by Rachel August on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:28 pm

I think there is a real beauty in the strides of world class runners - and I love watching just that part of the sport.....I don't really care who wins or who's even running - I just like the beauty of the sport - and come to think of it I've never paid to see that.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by twal on Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:19 pm

I just read that Eugene was just named as the host of the next 8 NCAA championships. You'll get plenty of opportunity to watch some great races. Between that and the Pre meet, watching a meet in Eugene one day is one of the items on my bucket list.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by Gary E on Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:13 pm

Pay? You mean to watch others do what you would rather be doing for free? No way!
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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by twal on Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:11 am

Your response doesn't surprise me. Cool 

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by Marc Thayer on Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:04 pm

skipping over the Cheese doodle commentary...I have watched marathons....NYC/Boston/Olypmpic....mens and women's ...start to finish on the tube and listened on the radio (it's Boston we get excited...and certainly would prefer that radicals would not attend...I digress).
I find that all the elements that Bill mentioned are there...but with a more chess like time frame...not exactly Arena Football pace.
Obviously I'm not in the mainstream in this interest.

Would I pay to attend?

I doubt it, because my field of view would be dimenished drastically... I'd be tempted to join the race...and spending any time at all in a detention facility is not on the bucket list.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by EugeneRunner on Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:54 pm

I still struggle with why runners aren't fans of running. I went to a track meet with a friend who is a professional runner, and even he was shocked to find out I was an actual "fan" - someone who knew who the runners we were watching were, what kinds of times they had run, etc. But even as a fan and a pro runner, the two of us didn't bother to watch most of the meet, and only hung out for the most interesting distance races.

I watched the New Balance Boston Indoor on TV yesterday, and even edited down and with several records set and some good match-ups, it wasn't all that compelling to watch. For some reason they had entire segments between commercials where they showed nothing when they could have shown some great races they skipped entirely.

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Re: Would you pay to see a track meet?

Post by twal on Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:33 am

I'm a fan. I've been subscribing to Track & Field News since 1966. But nearest meets to me are in New York City and I hate going to NYC.

Some of the best days of my life were going to the Monteal Olympics in 1976 and watching Lasse Viren and Edwin Moses set records. I think that was the last track meet I attended where I wasn't coaching or running.

TV has not figured out how to capture the excitement of track.

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