NEW YORK - Track & Field will return to the country's premier sports and entertainment venue for the 99th year on Saturday, January 28, when the U.S. Open Track & Field at Madison Square Garden kicks off USA Track & Field's 2012 Visa Championship Series, USATF announced Thursday.
Garden legend Bernard Lagat will headline in the men’s mile in a USA Track & Field meet that promises to showcase the best of the sport’s tradition in a streamlined in-stadium and broadcast presentation. The U.S. Open will be the first track meet to be held in The Garden following the completion of the first phase of the building’s historic, top-to-bottom, three-year Transformation, and will be the first major professional meet in the United States as the 2012 Olympic Year gets under way.
"Madison Square Garden feels like home to me, and I am so happy to be coming back in 2012," said Lagat, a 2-time Olympic medalist and the American record holder who has won eight 1-mile races in the Garden. "I can't think of a better place to kick off the Olympic year. I look forward to seeing the New York track fans who have supported me for so many years, many new fans in the new Garden."
The U.S. Open will be broadcast on ESPN2 from 7-9 p.m. Eastern on January 29 and is part of USATF's most aggressive TV schedule in years.
Though Lagat will be a familiar face, plenty will be "new" at the U.S. Open, including the newly completed first phase of The Garden Transformation, a new schedule of events, and new ticket prices. With tickets priced from $15 to $75, a wide range of sports fans will be able to see a historic sport held in a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue.
Fans can expect traditionally popular events to be contested, such as the men's mile and a full slate of professional events, as well as select high school fan favorites. The full schedule will be announced by December 1.
"The U.S. Open will provide the fast-paced, exciting meet expected at every MSG event," USATF Interim CEO Mike McNees said. "This will be a tightly scheduled meet featuring the 'best of the best' from past Garden meets while providing a fitting kick-off to the 2012 Olympic year. We are excited about our partnership with The Garden and are especially glad that everyone from kids to families to VIPs will be able to access the meet."
"Track and field has a long standing history at Madison Square Garden spanning nearly 100 years and has played an important role in the building's status as The World's Most Famous Arena," said Scott O'Neil, president, MSG Sports. "We are excited to continue our partnership with USA Track & Field and launch the U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden. This new event will kick-off the 2012 Olympic year and provide fans with a look at some of the top athletes in the sport, including legendary runner and Garden crowd favorite Bernard Lagat, as they begin their race toward London."
Visa Championship Series on the air
USATF's 2012 Indoor Visa Championship Series will continue with the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on Feb. 4 and the 2012 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., Feb. 25-26, where athletes will qualify for the Team USA squad that will compete in March at the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
All told, indoors and outdoors, the 2012 Visa Championship Series will feature five hours of coverage on NBC, six on ESPN and two on ESPN2 as the Visa Championship Series tees up the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field. The Olympic Trials will be broadcast entirely on NBC and its affiliates.
Tickets, starting as low as $15.00, will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, November 30 at 12:00pm. Tickets will be available at the MSG Box Office, Ticketmaster charge at 866-858-0008, all Ticketmaster outlets, and THEGARDEN.com. Annual MSG Track & Field subscribers can contact 212-465-6073. USA Track & Field is proud to accept only Visa.