Guide to Building an Indoor Track Facility
Traditionally built in northern states, indoor track facilities are now making major impacts nationwide. The value of having a year-round, climate-controlled, season-proof, weatherproof indoor track facility is driving institutions to invest in the future of their track & field programs.
Pristine NCAA programs like Baylor, Iowa and Liberty have all recently unveiled their newly constructed indoor venues. With powerhouse Michigan and Texas Tech in the process of building theirs, a “gold rush” of indoor venues has commenced in the U.S.; each striving to take top honors.
Before embarking on planning your indoor facility, remember, you have all the power. Make sure you ask the right questions to ensure your venue offers the highest quality home for your program.
Keys to building your indoor facility:
- Spikes or No-Spikes: Opt for a spike resistant surface. Definitely worth the investment, you don’t want to police athletes to keep your surface in top shape.
- Right Texture: Consider all the sports and activities that will use the surface and choose the right surface combination. Our wide array of indoor systems are created to be versatile by allowing you to mix and match the right combination for your specific program.
- Air Quality: Research and ask suppliers for air quality certifications.
- Maintenance: Find a product that is coated so it will reduce marks and wear and won’t stain.
- Reference: Ask and visit references. Talk to neighboring coaches and athletes.
- Lighting: Poor lights will make the entire facility look sub-par. Good lighting not only makes the facility look great, but can really make every track meet a fantastic show for both the athletes and the spectators.
- Storage: Don’t under evaluate your need for storage.
Why an indoor facility is worth the investment
PREMIER FACILITIES DRAW IN PREMIER RECRUITS
Indoor tracks are a key recruiting tool. What better way to attract top athletes than showing them a dedicated indoor track facility. Day or night. Sun or rain. Ice or thunder. Liberty University, who just installed their state of the art hydraulic track, felt the buzz as soon as visiting high schoolers stepped on the track during their the VA Showcase meet, this year. The school received 400 athlete inquiry cards that same day.
Texas Tech’s Director of Athletics, Kirby Hocutt, told one regional newspaper that "first-class facilities like the new Sports Performance Center give our fans unforgettable game day experiences, help recruit top student-athletes and ensure that our fearless champions remain competitive."
The University of Iowa reported their recently installed indoor track completely elevated their program: “It allows us to reach out and attract better talent. Not just from around the country, but the world,” said Joey Woody, Iowa’s Director of Track & Field.
GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO GENERATE SECONDARY REVENUE
Indoor tracks not only bring in new recruits, but also bring in new money. It’s been a game-changer for the Hawkeye’s track and field team and big revenue stream now that they began hosting championship level meets.
Within weeks of installation, the Hawkeyes hosted Florida State, Notre Dame and names like Texas, USC, and Washington were considering a meet in Iowa City as well.
It is difficult to bring in quality competition teams during indoor season without a nice indoor track. The better and best track teams are attracted to great facilities that are fun and fast to run on, feel good and provide a spectacular show for the fans. And, in order for teams to get better, it takes competing against strong teams on a regular basis.
Texas Tech shared that their new track affords them to bring the best to Lubbock. They were unable to produce high quality meets with high-quality athletes in the past. Now with one of only the few indoor tracks in the state of Texas, they can host high-quality big meets bringing in better competition and more money to the school.
An indoor track and field house is also a legacy project that can combine athletic department goals with multi-purpose space and facilities for all students and academic programs.
Texas Tech’s new facility, which should be complete by August 2017, will enable them to host championship-level events, including the Big 12 Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.
The complex will also house an indoor football practice field, strength and conditioning center, equipment facilities and a sports medicine and nutrition center that will support all 17 varsity sports. The track and football field will be separated by a unique removable door that allows for maximum use of both areas, particularly when hosting a track and field event.
An indoor track provides consistent practice time; regardless of weather. Rain, dangerous thunderstorms, and hurricane wind can easily end practice early or mean practice doesn’t happen at all. Field events are particularly vulnerable - athletes cannot perform in soggy muddy grass.
Indoor track schools are able to get an early start to the season. Iowa even noted - this year - that their students were performing faster for big meets because they had more training time.
Indoor tracks also provide year-round, weather-proof training for many sports and athletes, plus the general student population and possibly the greater community. The addition of a field house for any institution is an athletic and financial benefit for all involved.
Types of indoor track facilities:
Still a novelty, a banked track refers to the practice of incorporating slope into the turns of the track. The slope lessens the effort needed by athletes to make tight corners and thus increases speed. Those tighter turns are par for the course with indoor tracks, which are no more than 300M.
Hydraulically banked indoor track facilities have the ability to change from a banked track for training and meets to a flat track for multipurpose events.
Schools like Liberty University, Virginia Military Institute (VMI), and soon, the University of Michigan are enjoying the benefits of a hydraulic banked track.
VMI’s “Corps Physical Training Facility” - showcases Beynon’s Rise-N-Run Hydraulic Track, which allows athletes to raise and lower the track surface to specific angles of embankment to counteract centrifugal force caused by their circular motion and achieve unparalleled racing times.
“The responsiveness of the track has been outstanding,” said Darrin Webb, Director of VMI Track & Field. “It has a great feeling and great “return of energy” in moving the athlete forward.”
The hydraulic system allows coaches and athletes to be in control of the embankment angles of their track to perfect their ability to speed around the circular surface and analyze the effects of centrifugal force on their own terms.
“Personally, I like a banked track,” agrees Coach Tolsma head coach of Liberty University. “It reduces the lateral forces that tear a runner up. On a flat track, the centrifugal force always pushes you out so it’s easy to get injured. We had a lot of injuries on our previous track.”
Permanent Banked Track
A permanent banked track like Yale, Boston University and University of Iowa really demonstrate a University’s commitment to the sport of track and field.
With all of the benefits that a hydraulic track provides while banked - optimal grounds for high-speed training and competition, great return of energy and injury reduction - a permanent banked track is solely used by the track team. No more planning around other athletes - truly making the track & field program a priority.
Multipurpose Indoor Track
You don’t have to build something as extravagant as a banked or hydraulic track to compete. South Dakota State University has a standard indoor track; the biggest indoor facility in DIV I and it’s considered one of the best facilities in the country.
Other incredible standard indoor tracks: Tufts University, Middlebury College, Cornell University and Franklin & Marshall College. All of these schools host large meets, break records, provide spectacular performances that captivate fans and inspire runners.
And the facility is very usable by other athletic programs and athletes as well as the student population and community. These surfaces are great spaces for large events and activities.
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