Kidd Field gets long awaited face-lift
Published: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
Walk down the tunnel under the bleachers at UTEP's Kidd Field and into the offices and locker rooms of the track and field/cross country department. The dozens of framed awards for UTEP's past and present All-American track and field and cross-country athletes line the walls of the office lobby. There is literally no room for more awards to be hung on any of the lobby's four walls or the hallway leading to the coach's offices.
Now, after approximately 12 years, UTEP's most successful athletic program, track and field, will get a facelift to their home as well. Kidd Field is not only used by the UTEP track and field team for practices and the annual UTEP Invitational track meet, but also by UTEP students for personal fitness as well as kinesiology classes.
"I think we are very fortunate that we are able to get this type of track in these economic times," head coach Mika Laaksonen said. "It took a while to go through the steps and get it here, but I don't think we indicated that there was a need for a new one earlier."
The typical lifespan of a track running surface is seven or eight years, under good weather conditions, Laaksonen said.
In the past decade, UTEP athletics has tried to help bolster the department by investing heavily in upgrading facilities. Since Bob Stull took over as athletic director, the Sun Bowl has had new turf installed; the Don Haskins Center received a new floor and a new neighboring facility, the Foster Stevens Basketball Center, which opened last year. The facility cost $14.6 million to build and it features two practice courts, a strength and conditioning center, as well as other amenities for the men's and women's basketball teams.
"We have had good success with this program, but it's also not a revenue sport and I'm completely satisfied," Laaksonen said. "This is a new position for me and we are getting a new track, so I'm satisfied."
While Kidd Field has had some recent light renovations, a new video board and scorer's booth was installed as well as upgrades to the locker rooms, the surface of the track remained the same. Laaksonen indicated that while the old surface had hardened with time and caused minor injuries to his team, it probably also slowed some of his team's times over the course of the season.
"The old track was very hard to run on," said senior 200 and 400 meter runner Anderson Mutegi. "(The softer surface) is going to help us post faster times, I think, and avoid injuries, and its also a motivation for us to run faster."
The new track will be painted in UTEP's trademark dark navy blue with orange place markers. Coaches hope that by advancing the UTEP brand on the new surface, they can continue to attract world-class track and field athletes to their program.
"A good track is always an attraction to recruiting," assistant coach Paul Ereng said. "When you have a good facility, everyone wants to use it."
Currently, with outdoor track season still months away, the track team is using the Sun Bowl and surrounding area parks and tracks to do work out. Laaksonen says this is only a minor inconvenience that will pay off when the new track is done. According to the contractor, the new track should be completed by Oct. 16.
David Acosta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org