Although it is the beginning of the indoor track season, it’s never too early to start thinking about the outdoor campaign. Soon enough it will be May and time to flock to Eastern Illinois University and O’Brien Field for the state championship. Below are a few photos of the progress of the stadium operation. It was pointed out by an anonymous source that the track will not be complete until March or April because of a moisture problem.
I was looking at EIU work on the state track meet facility the other day.
EIU is putting in a new track which they do every few years. That is nothing new, but they have done a number of little changes and improvements.
First, there does not seem to be any natural areas around track like grass or dirt. Some of this was probably done before football. The football artificial grass now lines the west side of track between large main bleachers and track.
Let me get to the main things that I noticed:
I will start on the east side where they put in new bleachers with a concrete base a few years ago with a railing. The next area next to bleachers now is the long and triple jump runways with three pits, a north end, a middle, and a south end similar to the past, but the runways extend from the southeast entrance to near the north fence. There is plenty of runway length. The change is that the LJ and TJ were always inside the track in bench area of football field. There are no longer any runways inside the track now.
The next runway is the pole vault runway which a similar three pit area but not the length. Still plenty long but not middle pits and north pits of the LJ/TJ and Pole vault will not be next to each other. Obviously the PV runway is parallel to the LJ/TJ runway. Next to the PV runway will be the new track surface. In summary the LJ/TJ runway has been moved from inside the track to next to east side bleachers. The PV runway is between the LJ/TJ runway and the track now. There is no grass slope now. The non-runway surface is an artificial surface. Almost every area inside facility fence is now an artificial surface.
The shot put area which was a rock area between north end zone and the score board looks to be gone now. Part of it is the green artificial grass of football and part has not been laid yet, but is the same black undertrack surface that is laid all around the track.
It looks to be like shot put will be outside of the fence again, but that is only my observation of present facility construction.
The facility looks very nice especially since everything seems to be laid in a very organized manner. It is probably better for everyone including the jumpers to not be along the track now. Sometimes races would be going down backstretch within 10 feet of a runner on a jumping runway. Alot of that confusion will be cleared up now.
There will be alot of jumpers and vaulters now in that area between east bleachers and track. Vaulters need room as there will be many poles, but coaches will not be much closer to talk with jumpers- instead the vaulters will have to watch crossing jumper runways to see a coach. Still, I like the fact that the jumpers are not inside track. Many years ago I had a jumper and it was next to impossible to communicate with her when she was jumping inside the track. She did not like jumping when races were going right by her.
The steeplechase pit is in the same place so I assume the high jump will the same. The areas that are not finished is the track itself, the high jump area, and the area inside track around scoreboard. It is possible that the shot put area could be inside the track, but it looks to be some sort of artificial surface there not a light gravel or limestone. I am not sure if the runways are done yet as they are clearly painted, but I did not look close enough. I think it is the artificial surface that is similar to the football field- not a runway surface like track surface.