The anticipated Indoor Heps rotational turn — which was expected to bring the event back to New York City in the winter of 2015 — is in jeopardy because of potential scheduling conflicts with the Armory, which hosted the Championships in 2007 and 2011.
While sources at the Armory will acknowledge only that its administration remains in negotiation with the Ivy League to host future events, multiple sources connected to the League have confirmed that the venue for the 2015 Championships remains unclear. The Ivy League office shed little light on next year’s Heps or any alternatives, offering only that they “are discussing the location of next year’s Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field Championships within our office and with our eight member schools.”
The sticking point is that New York City’s Public School Athletic League (PSAL) is now scheduled to hold its Championships on Sunday of that weekend. The Armory — while operated by the Armory Foundation — remains a city-owned property with the published mission of serving the students from the five boroughs. For the Ivy League to hold Indoor Heps at the Armory it will require timely decisions and collaborative spirit, as the Armory has more than 100 event days packed in a four-month window during the winter.
Officials at the Armory recently proposed a Friday night-Saturday night option for Heps, but the coaches group has not (yet) embraced such a change. The athletic directors would be unlikely to approve the change minus the coaches’ consent. Even with consent, the revenue model would need approval as the League would likely request an income-sharing agreement. Having little time to resolve the issues could mean that Heps’ athletes who are currently juniors will be the first class since the one that arrived on the campuses in 2004 to not experience a New York City championship weekend.
This proposed change to an evening event would have little impact on either class time or travel expense. Teams routinely miss classes on Friday to attend Heps Championships held on its farthest-flung campuses like Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn. If approved, teams would likely arrive in the New York area on Thursday night and depart after the event on Saturday evening, very similar to the way Ivy basketball teams have been traveling for decades. Clocking in at about four hours, the team from Dartmouth would have the longest journey while Cornell and Harvard are each about 3 1/2 hours away. Teams from Columbia, Penn, Princeton and Yale would have less than two hours of travel time.
While participating in evening events would be an adjustment for coaches and athletes, the energy and excitement in the building would likely be widely embraced by families, alumni and fans. Being in New York — where about a third of HepsTrack.com traffic originates — is also an effective way to appeal to alumni. In 2011, at least four of the schools hosted alumni functions within the building while others gathered, both formally and informally, at nearby Coogans Restaurant.
Back in 2011, HepsTrack collected the thoughts of some of the athletes set to compete at the Armory for Indoor Heps. The response was overwhelmingly positive, including the following comments:
Yale’s Kate Grace — “I’ve been looking forward to Heps at the Armory since freshmen year.“
Princeton’s Donn Cabral — “It’s cramped, loud and fast; perfect for Heps.”
Dartmouth’s Alex Tanner — “Heps at the Armory is going to be so hype. This is probably the best facility we could ask for to host Heps and I’m really excited.”
Princeton’s Ashley Higginson — “I am super excited about this year’s venue and always hoped I would get to run Heps at the Armory before I graduated!”
Cornell’s Nick Wade — “Ask any high school, collegiate, post-collegiate or professional track athlete in the country what venue they would like to compete at next and you’ll hear one answer — The Armory.”
More than 40 times posted just from events on the Armory oval in 2011 remain on the Championships’ all-time top 10 lists — a huge number that is otherwise unmatched. Since 2011, the Armory’s profile has gotten even larger with the addition of the Millrose Games to its schedule. Last month the Millrose Games was sold out for the third straight year and drew impressive ratings live on NBC Sports.
What do you think about “Heps At Night?”