After a run of 38 years, it's likely that the 5th Regiment Armory in the city will not be available for high school indoor track come December. And, perhaps, the sport is done in the century-old building for good.
The Military Department (National Guard) of the State of Maryland announced a few months ago that a long-overdue resurfacing of the armory floor was planned at a cost of $600,000. It is expected to be finished by November.
The new surface decided upon is quarry tile, which will last almost indefinitely, but is extremely hard and not conducive to indoor track meets. Presently, the armory floor is plastic (linoleum) over concrete.
Upon hearing of the plans, Ron Belinko, coordinator of physical education and athletics for Baltimore County, petitioned for a surface that would allow for the continuation of programs serving the county as well as Baltimore City and Anne Arundel and Howard counties.
Last season, the armory was used for track on more than 30 occasions, including the three-day state championship meet.
The National Guard did apply for a supplemental appropriation of $900,000 from the state to resurface with something other than quarry tile. But, despite Gov. Parris Glendening's request to include it in the budget, the additional money was not approved by the state legislature.
Col. Howard Freedlander, executive officer and legislative liaison for the National Guard, said, "A final decision [regarding the resurfacing] has to be made in the very near future to proceed with the originally designed replacement floor or risk losing the funding currently allocated."
Belinko, who serves as liaison for all the school districts using the armory, said: "It would be a whole lot better if they resurfaced with the same material that is already down. At least we could carry on our programs that serve so many."
The present surface was put down by Baltimore County about two decades ago. Before that, the armory had a maple-wood floor.