NYC’s Armory Track Joins NFT Craze With Record-Setting High School Clip

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The Armory, an historic track and field center in Upper Manhattan, is jumping into the NFT market with the auction of a rare video of a record-setting mile.

The 2001 race, won by Alan Webb in 3:59.86, marked the first time a high school athlete had broken the fabled 4-minute mark indoors.

Until now, the only publicly available footage was a grainy video shot from the stands. The newly released video was professionally shot by Ambrose Salmini, who agreed to offer it for the auction. Having seen the surge in interest in NFTs, a type of certificate of authenticity used to create licensed originals of everything from tweets to clips of LeBron James, the Armory Foundation decided to join the fray, says Jonathan Schindel, its co-president.

The auction will be held on the OpenSea digital marketplace and be available for purchase with cryptocurrency. The starting price is 3.59 Ether in honor of Webb’s time.

“A big part of so many sports is the memorabilia,” Schindel tells Bloomberg. “Baseball cards have a 130-year history. What exists in track and field are these unforgettable moments that sometimes occur during the Olympics but sometimes occur during smaller events. To make these once-in-a-lifetime moments available, we saw an opportunity in the NFT market.”

The Armory’s decision follows the success of NBA Top Shot, a site that licenses short clips of memorable NBA moments and assigns them to NFTs, making them the effective equivalent of digital baseball cards. But however popular these clips might be, market demand has slipped precipitously. Last week, Bloomberg reported that the total value of Top Shot NFTs in circulation dropped from $1.85 billion at the beginning of March to $1.09 billion by March 30, a 41% decline.

Significant Financial Aid

Proceeds from the Armory’s sale, scheduled to start at 1 p.m. East Coast time on Wednesday and run through April 21, will benefit the Armory’s College Prep program. Open to New York City students who train at the track, it’s meant to help those who might not be able to win acceptance at college—or afford it—to matriculate. 

About two dozen students graduate from the program each year. For the past five years, 100% of the class has been accepted to a four-year college or university, often with significant financial aid, Schindel says.

NYC’s Armory Track Joins NFT Craze With Record-Setting High School Clip

The Armory typically hosts more than a hundred meets a year, including the Millrose Games, which are nationally televised and feature the fabled Wanamaker Mile. The games were canceled this year; the Armory became a mass vaccination site as of mid-January in partnership with neighboring New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Schindel says track meets are expected to resume later this year, and the Millrose Games will return next winter. He expects vaccinations at the site to continue until at least the end of May.

“Right now, this is the highest and best use of the Armory,” he says.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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