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TRACK AND FIELD ASSOCIATION DEBUTS TO MIXED RESULTS
Published June 7, 1999
The Track and Field Association (TFA) held its first and only meet this year at N.Y.'s 12,000-seat Mitchel Athletic Complex yesterday, and was designed to "encourage athletes, television networks and corporate sponsors to sign up for the future," according to Frank Litsky of the N.Y. TIMES. While the attendance was "generously announced" at 3,184, the athletes "said they were inspired by the crowd's enthusiasm" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/7). In Philadelphia, Ron Reid writes that the debut meet was "a worthy show, even if only 3,184 spectators turned out" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/7). In DC, Amy Shipley writes that some of those in attendance were "lured in with free tickets," with most of the events "squeezed" into a 90-minute broadcast, time which the TFA had purchased from ESPN. The event's promoter "estimated the day's financial losses totaled about" $1.5M, and TFA Founder & CEO Brian Vandenberg stated that he and other investors in the ProChampionships "are prepared to lose more than" $10M over the next four years. Vandenberg: "We made a conscious decision: Let's build this as a business and do it right" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/7). Vandenberg said that he was "thrilled" with the event, adding: "Today was just a glimpse of what we're trying to do." But in Boston, Barbara Huebner writes that "whether track and field, languishing as a spectator sport in the U.S., was a winner remains to be seen" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/7). In L.A., J.A. Adande notes the varied sports competition in N.Y. during the weekend and writes the TFA "picked a heck of a weekend to start." Adande: "The TFA has itself to blame for the location. CEO Brian Vandenberg said the group wanted a major market, but it would have been better off in a city that would make it the headline attraction" (L.A. TIMES, 6/7).