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Wieczorek eyes new track stadium

BY JALYN SOUCHEK | SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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Construction on the Cretzmeyer Track was completed in 1986. In 1993, the track was resurfaced and was considered one of the best facilities in the country, a project that cost the university an estimated $2 million.

Director of Track and Field Larry Wieczorek envisions a plan to improve the already top-of-the-line track. The problem isn’t with the track itself but with what surrounds it — or rather what doesn’t surround it.

Down the road, Wieczorek would like to see a stadium built up around the track to replace the existing bleachers. A full stadium is just another way to enhance the program and to entice top athletes to come to Iowa, he said.

“I think it’s like anything else at the university,” he said. “You want to keep improving.”

Steve Roe, the director of athletics communications, supports adding on to the Cretzmeyer Track, but he said the project isn’t in the immediate future.

“We have current projects that are active, such as the football facility, and then we have a list of facilities that will be addressed down the line,” he told *The Daily Iowan* on Tuesday.  “[A new stadium] will certainly be one of them.”

Wieczorek compares his need for a new stadium to when Hayden Fry coached the Iowa football team. Fry wanted to improve the facilities and did eventually receive renovations to Kinnick Stadium and the construction of the Bubble.

Building a track stadium has been an idea for the past couple years, but right now, the project is in the idea stage.

“We have a long-term vision to improve our program,” Wieczorek said. “We’re at square one. We’re making our dreams known … I think the idea of talking about it, you get other people interested, it comes to life; perhaps then becomes a reality.”

At one time, having his own cross-country course was also just a vision and dream of Wieczorek’s. In 2002, that became a reality when the Ashton Cross-County Course opened.

Head women’s cross-country and track and field coach Layne Anderson said a new facility would make a statement to current student athletes and future recruits.

“It would show how we feel about them, how we value them,” he said. “It’s a statement for recruits about how competitive you want them to be and the opportunities you want to give to them.”

A facility around the track would complement how nice the track is, he said. Anderson would also like to see a covered stadium and such simple amenities as restrooms and concession stands.

If this vision became a reality for the Hawkeyes, it would join only three other Big Ten universities that boast track stadiums: Ohio State, Illinois, and Nebraska. The Jesse Owens Stadium on the Buckeye campus, which is also used for soccer and field hockey, is the biggest of three, with a seating capacity of 10,000 and an estimated cost of $6.5 million.

The Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium seats 8,000 and cost $3.4 million, including track-surface renovations. The Ed Weir Stadium of Nebraska seats up to 3,500 and is one of the older stadiums, constructed in 1975. It cost the Huskers approximately $2 million to resurface the track in recent years.

Sophomore sprinter Kaleb VanCleave said it would be a great idea to add a stadium, which would attract more teams to come compete at Iowa. On the other hand, he said, he has no qualms about the current track facility.

“It’s a really nice track compared to what I was running on in high school, so I can’t complain,” he said.

While the current track is nice, Wieczorek wants to create a facility that everyone can be proud of.

“It would be for my alumni, to make them proud, for the current athletes to be proud of, and future athletes, too,” he said.

Big Ten track stadiums

Jesse Owens Stadium, Ohio State
Capacity: 10,000
Estimated cost: $6.5 million

Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium
Capacity: 8,000
Estimated cost: $3.4 million

Ed Weir Stadium, Nebraska
Capacity: 3,500
Estimated cost: $2 million (track resurfacing)

 


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