During the recession, a lot of sports facilities, particularly those funded by schools, got by with what track builders tend to refer to as ‘Band-Aid fixes’—stopgap repairs meant to cover the worst of the problems, in the event the remaining issues could be addressed another time.
But now that the recession crisis has passed, it’s time to look at your track again—really look at it. What do you see? Problems with the surface? Fencing that has seen better days? Dilapidated storage sheds? Chances are, you may be so used to seeing them that you don’t notice them. But your athletes do. And yes, the athletes who visit your facility notice them as well.
It’s time to do a walk-through of your facility and to decide what needs to be addressed.
Grab your phone, a note pad and a good pair of walking shoes. The first part of this inspection is all about what you’ll see.
On the surface
Make your first lap around the track itself. Keep a sharp eye out for problems with the surface. Look down at the track closely. What do you see? One thing you should see clearly are lane lines and markings. If these are faded or worn, get a photo or two with your phone. Make a note of where the numbers or lines are less than clear.
Next, check the track surface itself. You should not see loose granules, bare spots or other obvious signs of wear. If you do, take more photos and notes.
It’s not everyone’s favorite subject, but you need to examine drainage and irrigation anyway. If there’s a field in the center of your track, take a moment to see how the drains are working. For example, in case of rain, the water should move to a drain. It should never sit on the track, nor should it puddle there. In cases where there is an irrigation system, water should be set only to fall on the field. It should never fall on the bleachers, the track, storage sheds or any other structures. This is as much a water conservation issue as it is an issue of drainage and neatness.
Walk your fence line. Check to see what the fence looks like. In particular, you should be making sure there are no broken, drooping or loose fence rails. Next, check the fence fabric. You want to make sure it’s straight and neat, not bulging or sagging. Look also for burs and sharp edges that could injure an athlete.
Check your notes
You actually can’t take notes that are too detailed. And using those notes from year to year is what’s going to give you a better overall view of your track. Go back to previous records and see if the following information is recorded:
- The date the track was originally installed;
- The name of the builder;
- Whether any subsequent repairs have been done since that time.
You’ll want to reach out to the original builder, if possible, to let that person know you’re looking at the track with an eye to renovation. If for some reason the original builder isn’t listed or can’t be located, it’s time to start using your network. Reach out to coaches, athletic directors and administrators in the area who have facilities you like. Find out who did their work – and more importantly, whether they’re happy with that person and company.
When meeting with the contractor (either the original person or someone from a new company), be sure to walk the facility with them as well. Let them know your concerns and show them any areas on the facility you believe need attention. If there’s a budget in mind or a date by which work needs to be completed, let them know that as well; it’ll behoove both of you to have that information in advance.
Keep the lines of communication open
A recipe for success in the world of sports facility construction calls for, among others, the essential ingredient of communication. Maintain a good working relationship with your contractor. Find out how work is progressing and whether the deadline you’ve given them is still feasible. Remember that things like weather can affect the construction schedule, so be prepared to be flexible if necessary.
You don’t have to know all about tracks to have the best possible outcome for a track renovation project. You do, however, need to get advice from someone whose opinions you can trust, and who has the credentials and experience to help you out.
Plenty of people have worked with a track and field project, but not all have comprehensive knowledge.