Bob Hayes track meet funding on chopping block

Mayor to give budget address Monday

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Bob Hayes Invitational Track Meet is the latest to become aware that it could lose all its city funding as a result of budget cuts, something that could put the yearly event in jeopardy.

It's part of the plan to scale back on events and save the city money. It's also something the event organizers hope the private sector could step in to help fund.

Coach James Day, the event's organizer, has been involved with the track meet since its beginning. Day is being honored this weekend by attorneys from across the state for his work in this event, which he said he's not about to let die from budget cuts.

View full proposed 2013-14 budget

"This event brings more people from more places on the East Coast than any other event in the city, plus it's 49 years old. We will have our 50th anniversary this year," Day said.

The city's plan is to take away the $84,875 the track meet counts on to fund the event. It may not sound like much, but its all organizers receive to bring the meet to Jacksonville.

The track meet honors one of the city's greatest athletes, Bob Hayes, a gold medal track star and Super Bowl ring holder.

The event brings in thousand of people from around the Southeast, and athletes from high schools and middle schools come to compete.

"Yes, it's very important," Day said. "No. 1, it brings money to the city. We are talking $1 million a week."

While other departments and agencies are running to make sure they will get some cut of city money, those with the track meet say they are not giving up, and if it is cut, they will keep running.

"It will work out. It will work out. I am so sure," Day said. "We are already inviting over 3,000 high school teams. We do it now. We do it right now. We don't wait until March to do it. All the work is being done right now."

The mayor will present his budget address at 9 a.m. Monday. It will be carried live on

Channel 4 has learned there will be protestors out front of City Hall, including the Occupy Jacksonville group was camped out there for months last year.

"Well, we are going to make signs. We are going to be out there with billboards letting people know they are cutting funding to the Fire Department, the Sheriff's Office and closing libraries and community centers," protestor Eleanor Wilson said.

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