The last time Long Beach State’s track and field team competed on its home turf was eight years ago. In 2005, the team was forced to perform at Cerritos Community College because the LBSU facility was deemed inadequate to host meets.
Track and field/cross country head coach Andy Sythe said his team won’t have to wait another year for a proper track. The eight-month construction process of building the Beach’s brand new $3.4 million track and field facility began on Sept. 8, and is expected to be ready in May 2015.
After dealing with a run-down track for more than half of his 25-year tenure, Sythe looks forward to this new development that will allow his team to reach its maximum potential.
“In the NCAA, everything is about performance for track,” Sythe said. “You have to hit a standard, run a fast time and the fastest advance. When you get to national championships, everything’s based on head-to-head competition. So where we go and compete has everything to do with our abilities to advance to the national championships, so we want a facility that can actually utilize the wind versus work against us.”
Ohno Constuction Company, a company that has worked on the Seattle Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field and UCLA’s Spaulding Field, took over Jack Rose Stadium at LBSU and is contracted for $3.4 million, assistant athletic director Roger Kirk said.
Funds will come from campus reserves, which are cumulative unspent operating dollars that consist of state funds and/or campus revenues (deferred equipment purchases, salary and benefit savings due to vacant positions, utility savings, etc), associate vice president of budget and university services Ted Kadowaki said.
Sythe said he believes that the new installment will benefit, not only students and athletes, but also the campus as a whole through ticket sales, opportunities for kinesiology students to practice and a place for athletes to train and be supported during competition on a field they can call their own.
This facility will be open to the public, including students and faculty members, and some students having mixed feelings about the new addition.
“If we have our own field, more people would come here and we would make more money with ticket sales and selling food and merchandise…” junior economics major Rosa Citraro said.
Senior mechanical engineering majors Stephen Vargas and Larry Cifuentas said they wouldn’t ever utilize the field since the recreation center already has an indoor track.
Junior economics major Nick Sybirski said he prefers running outdoors, and he believes the team deserves this gift.
“If I came to this school for a scholarship, I wouldn’t come here knowing I’d have to practice somewhere else,” Sybirski said. “If we have a track and field team, they should have the best track and field. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, especially when the other sports on campus have everything they need.”