How track and field renovations would benefit ULM, community

Last year, the ULM Athletic Department made upgrades to facilities that benefited the football, baseball and softball team, but now the focus has shifted to fixing Brown Stadium.

While news of the museum’s research collection being moved out of storage for the renovation of the track has caused an upset, the track and eld facility has needed replacing for over 10 years.

According to Athletic ULM Director Brian Wickstrom, “the current track is over 40 years old.”

“I have been looking for funding for the project since I have been here,” Wickstrom said. “Funding is the biggest challenge because Dr. Bruno has been very careful about utilizing any state funds for our athletics facilities’ construc- tion/improvements.”

The department has made some strides in se- curing funding for the project, but the project is still pending.

Last year, a $650,000 donation from the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau was acquired, but renovation is an ap- proximately $5 million project.

“ The track is being moved further away from the bleachers to help with the sight lines,” Wickstrom said. “In addition, the current proposal has the shape changing to be Olympic-shaped with shorter straightaways and wider turns.”

The Olympic-shaped track will allow the soccer field to be moved inside the track.

“ This is important because it allows our team to play underneath the lights and not have to play in 90-degree temperatures in August.”

Wickstrom said the project will do several positive things for track, soccer and cross country.

With the project money, all three teams will have their own locker rooms.

“Right now they do not have their own space,” Wickstrom said.

The money will also provide modern office space that has air conditioning and heating for the coaches. Aside from benefitting the university teams, Wickstrom said the upgrade will “allow the Convention and Visitors Bureau to host regional and national track and eld meets which will generate a lot of visitors and dollars for the community.”

“ This will bring a lot of prospective students to campus,” Wickstrom said.

If the funding is approved, renovation on Brown Stadium would start October 2017 and will be complete sometime around May 2018.