Alabama State University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced its intent to renovate the university’s track field located in the old Hornet Stadium. Upon hearing the announcement, students, as well as track and field athletes and coaches, expressed excitement.
“The track field has needed some maintenance efforts for a long time. The last time I was there, the concrete was badly breaking, and I can only imagine how unmotivating that can be for the athletes. I’m really excited that the track athletes are going to finally get the kind of field that they deserve.” said junior political science major Bianca Richards.
“That’s actually really exciting,” notes freshman communications major Deijah Mccoy. “I’m glad that the university is taking the initiative to service parts of the campus that need work. The track field is a great start because it is so deteriorated.”
The renovation project is part of an ongoing, comprehensive enhancement initiative directed by President Quinton T. Ross Jr., Ed.D., and supported by Vice President of Facilities Management and Operations Donald Dotson to improve the conditions, look and feel of the university’s athletic accommodations.
“The track is one of a number of areas that fall into the category of deferred maintenance on ASU’s campus,” Ross said. “Since my tenure began in 2017, we have worked systematically to provide upgrades campus-wide. The track has always been a priority for the Division of Facilities Management and Operations, led by Vice President Donald Dotson.”
Most college track and field stadiums are basic structures. The University of Arkansas’s John McDonnell Field, one of the nation’s top outdoor track and field facilities, cost about $34 million including its 1998 construction and subsequent renovations.
Some authorities said the standard lifespan of a track surface for elite competitions is around 10 years. Since the university installed its Olympic track at the stadium in 1995, it has served as a host for athletics events.
“I know that the track field has not been renovated for a while,” said sophomore Richard Stokes, business administration major. “It is one of the many sites on our campus that need to be maintained. This is most important for the coaches and students that use it daily to prepare to compete. I hope the track program benefits a lot from the upgrade.”
Head track coach Ritchie Beene is entering his 15th year at the helm of the men’s and women’s cross country program and 25th year overall with Alabama State University as the 2021-22 season quickly approaches.
“I am excited,” Beene said. “I am motivated by what the renovations can do for our program moving forward. The student-athletes are excited, and the improvements are going to elevate recruiting for track and field and cross country programs to the next level. There are some things we have to get done, but that is part of the process. That is part of the reason you sign up as a coach, and I am excited about the track upgrades. They will not only help us get some things done on a regional and national level but also to get young kids from the community involved in track and field.”
The ASU track and field team has accumulated several consecutive South Western Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships throughout the years. The renovated track will feature eight lanes and an area for high jumps at the west end of the facility. The Alabama State track and field/cross country program continues to be one of the best in the country under Beene’s leadership. The Hornets have won 40 conference championships under its current head coach, including the last 11 women’s outdoor championships and the 2019 men’s outdoor championship.
“With how well decorated our track program is, it’s definitely time that their program gets some attention to the maintenance of the field,” notes Silas Corker, junior computer information systems major.
Beene states, “The remodeling will be beneficial to the track and field program, and it motivates our student-athletes even more. It’s always a great thing when you can have a track field that the students can be proud of.”
The demographic or niche that will benefit most from these much-needed upgrades is the student track athletes, such as Nick Moseley, sophomore decathlon runner. “The track renovations are exciting for all of us. It’s something that has been a long time coming, and we need it now more than ever. It’s definitely a motivation for the new season.”
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jason Cable , Ph.D., said, “The state-of-the-art track will further enhance our tremendous on-campus athletic facilities. Our track and field program is one of the most successful programs in the nation. The renovations of this facility will provide an opportunity for coach Ritchie Beene and his staff to continue to train at a high level, as well as provide an opportunity to attract top talent from around the country.”
In addition to the track renovations, the grandstand was upgraded with new seating and a complete renovation and expansion of the press box. The concession areas, restrooms and storage facilities were renovated and updated to better serve the needs of both the team and its fans.
A new entry plaza was also incorporated into the facility with displays to commemorate the history of Alabama track athletes, both in collegiate and Olympic competitions. There is also a permanent awards area created out of the same material as the track itself.