The indoor track at the Albuquerque Convention Center has emerged as one of the preeminent indoor track & field facilities in the nation over the last decade. In concert with the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Albuquerque Convention Center, New Mexico has capitalized on its unique venue and prime training location with the indoor track at the ACC. The facility has hosted the four Mountain West Indoor Track & Field Championships, five USATF Indoor National Championships, and the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships — the first in NCAA history to be at altitude.
Bringing the track to Albuquerque was a confluence of good timing, a proactive city council and an irresistible sale. In spring of 2004, Albuquerque city leaders learned of a $1 million unused and undamaged indoor track sitting in storage in Canada that could be purchased for a mere $500,000. The state-of-the-art Mondo track had originally been ordered, then later declined, for use in the Los Angeles Staples Center arena.
The track finally found a home inside the Convention Center in downtown Albuquerque and made its debut on Jan. 15, 2005 for the inaugural Albuquerque All-Comers meet, ending a 20-year absence of an indoor track in the Duke City.
Nearly identical to the track used by the University of Arkansas at the Randal Tyson Track Center, Albuquerque’s new indoor facility received rave reviews from athletes, coaches and fans. Like the Arkansas facility, which has hosted a number of NCAA Indoor Championships in the new millennium, Albuquerque and University of New Mexico officials believed the city would become a destination for some of the nation’s premier events and they were right.
The new Albuquerque indoor track is a 200-meter, 60-degree banked track that has 60-meter straightaways running the entire length of the facility. It also includes men’s and women’s jumping runways and pits, as well as an areas for shot put, pole vault and high jump events. The surface of the track is red and white Mondo.
The Albuquerque All-Comers meet marked the University of New Mexico’s first indoor competition at home since hosting the 1987 Western Athletic Conference Championships in Tingley Coliseum at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. The Lobos under Joe Franklin now regularly host between four and six indoor meets per year, not only giving the Lobos a home track advantage, but bringing in countless numbers of teams, participants, and fans, pushing the economic impact of the track beyond the original estimates.
In the mid-60s Albuquerque was one of the nation’s elite indoor track and field locations. The 1966 AAU Indoor Nationals (now known as the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships) drew a two-day total of nearly 20,000 fans to Tingley Coliseum and was featured on the March 14 cover of Sports Illustrated. Albuquerque officials were able to lure the meet away from its regular home at Madison Square Garden in New York City that year.