A major track and field renovation project to begin in the spring of 2005 will include a new state-of-the-art facility, a new track surface and improved lighting.
The project will include new synthetic surfaces to replace the dirt and grass that are currently on the track and field. “Another part added to the project has been the installation of stadium lighting that will allow the college sport teams to have night games at home for the first time,” said Jim Sartoris, the college athletic director.
The renovation has been financed through the college Measure G bond that was passed in March of 2002. The bond issued $98 million to be used for special tax on property in the Glendale College district. A small percentage of the bond, $3 million, will cover the capital improvements of the renovation only. The new track and field, which many athletes have been anticipating, will be completed by the fall of 2005.
“The new facility will bring more revenue to the school because sports events are taking place on campus instead of other campuses where the school pays for their use,” said head football Coach John Cicuto.
Another revenue intake for the college will be some cuts on maintenance because “synthetic surfaces avoid holes, mud, or tear ups on the field,” said Sartoris.
According to the head track Coach Tom McMurray, “not only is the new track going to benefit the team but also other sport programs like the running aerobics and weight training classes.” The faculty and administrators will also benefit from the new project because they also use the facility to walk or run.
The new synthetic surface will prevent the track from being closed on rainy days. “Right now because of the rain the track gets so wet that the facility may be closed down for up to three days,” said McMurray. “When the dirt is really wet, the shoes of the runners create holes on the track and it takes days to replace,” said McMurray.
In addition, many classes are cancelled because of the wet track and field “and what is the benefit of the class if the student cannot work out?” said McMurray. The spring season is not the only season where the track is a disadvantage but also the fall season. “During the fall the dirt gets so hard that it gives the athletes shin splints from the pounding effect,” said McMurray. The new surface being installed will have more of a “cushion” effect and will eliminate the pounding. “It saves wear and tear on the body,” said McMurray.
Taurean Jones, a first year track team member at the college, is looking forward to the new track. “You do not have to put the lines down every week for the track meet,” said Jones. According to Jones the new track is going to be softer on the legs of the runners and will make them run faster. “You bounce more on synthetic surfaces while on dirt, you dig your shoe into the dirt and come out” dragging your legs, said Jones.
Cicuto agreed with Jones that the dirt track can create injuries and the new field would prevent it. “The grass gets holes and develops weeds, [thus] causing ankle injuries,” said Cicuto. The new surface is made of rubber and synthetic grass where you can wear tennis shoes that avoid holes from being made. “It is a unsafe field right now,” said Cicuto.
“The new facility is a great recruiting tool not only for the football team but will also benefit the track and soccer teams,” said Cicuto. All four-year schools are using these state-of-the-art surfaces, he said. “I have been here for 29 years and to finally have a good football field to practice on is exciting.”
The college athletic department is now doing research on practice facilities while renovations take place next year. The football team will go through two seasons without a facility and the track team will go through one season. There are options on practice fields including Verdugo Park and the Glendale Sports Complex.
“There is going to be some gives and takes but the end result is worth it,” the coach said.