Florida A&M’s athletic program is making upgrades and renovations to the softball field and track.
Michael Smith, interim athletic director, said the main reasons for the upgrades are athletes’ safety and that it helps with recruiting.
Smith said the softball field is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month, and the track should be completed in January.
“It shows our athletes that we care, and it improves the student-athlete experience,” Smith said.
The money for these upgrades comes from the maintenance facility account. This money is set aside specifically for upgrades. The softball field renovations are going to cost $35,000, and the track will cost an estimated $850,000.
Darren Hindson, manager of facilities and maintenance for the athletic department who oversees the softball field renovation project, said irrigation was the main issue with field.
“The outfield used to have big rain puddles,” Hindson said. “They took a while to dry. We are doing total renovations.”
The plans for the softball field include a new drainage system that will have eight underground rows going in multiple directions compared to the old system that only went in one direction.
In addition, a sprinkler system has been added to prevent the field from drying, and a new backstop net will make it easier for fans to see the game. The net will keep fans safe as well.
Lori Goodart, assistant softball coach, said the previous condition of the field was unsafe.
“The outfield was unlevel,” Goodart said. “This created unsafe playing conditions.”
The Robert “Pete” Griffin Track has been officially closed to the public since Jan. 8.
Smith said it was time for the track to be upgraded since its last renovation was more than 10 years ago and the track is more than 30 years old.
FAMU’s campus continuing services contractor, LLT Building Corp., is handling construction. LLT Building Corp. is the same company that renovated Jones Hall.
Kendall Jones, interim associate vice president for construction and facilities management, said the process is going to consist of removal of existing track surface, adding of new track surface, stripping, markings, site work, irrigation and fencing.
“The renovations will create a safe, environmentally sound and certified track for the FAMU community,” Jones said.
Since the track was closed, the FAMU men and women’s cross-country and track and field teams have held practices at local high schools.
Jaron Johnson, a junior economics student from Fort Worth, Texas, said he often ran on the track before construction began.
Johnson said the track had issues to fix before construction, such as an uneven running surface, and he has high expectations for the finished product. Johnson added that a newly renovated track would promote more community involvement.
“I expect for it to be really better,” Johnson said. “I hope the school cleans it up so we can utilize it and make money, because right now, it looks dilapidated.”