Photo Credit: Piper Pavelich

Keene State is in the beginning stages of investing in an inflatable dome track facility. The college currently does not have a track and field facility, indoors or outdoors. 

President Melinda Treadwell discussed that this addition is currently in the early stages, but she will be fighting hard for it. “We’re making a very, very strong and, I think, extremely legitimate and appropriate request… the Board of Trustees has made an offer to the campuses of the university system to put forward investment requests, and those investment requests are significant in scope. They’ve freed up about $50 million from our quasi-endowment [funds designated by the school board, rather than a donor] for cash investment in projects, and also are considering about $100 million in bonded projects,” said Treadwell.

Treadwell said that the college is proposing an $8 million investment from the University System of New Hampshire to stand up a track, which would be a 300 meter flat track. “That would be enabling Keene State to expand the size of its already incredibly successful – without a track – track and field team, and for us to really put some resources into the athletics programs because we believe that will lead to increased enrollment in track and field student-athletes,” she said. 

 Additionally, Treadwell said this track will benefit the surrounding community. “So, there are only a few 300 meter flat tracks around – this would be a real defining element. Part of what the school districts have been asking us is whether they could use this facility for some of their track meets, and, in fact, that’s a commitment that we will make for the city and for the broader regional competitive high school sports as well. It’s a great way to showcase Keene,” said Treadwell.

Treadwell expressed concern for the sustainability of this project, but has been reassured that it will be as environmentally conscious as possible. “…the firm that we’ve been working with actually has some really energy efficient approaches to keeping the domes functioning. They’ve really perfected that because it reduces their cost to operate and helps their corporate profit margins. So, they’ve shared with us how they’ve done it,” she said.

Athletic Director Phil Racicot said that this addition would be a significant investment for athletics and for the college. “The growth of athletic programs in general benefits the college on many levels when considering all that athletics contributes to the college experience and community. Intercollegiate athletics at Keene State has a demonstrated history of recruiting, retaining and graduating students at a high level. Creating new programs and expanding existing programs allows us to draw more students and contribute positively to enrollment,” said Racicot.

Racicot said having these new facilities could add to the appeal of Keene State athletics during the recruitment process. “Through the efforts of our student-athletes and coaches over the years, Keene has managed to be competitive in track and field without having a track or facilities. The addition of a true on-campus training and competition venue would allow us to at least double the size of our team with the proper infrastructure in place,” Racicot said.

This addition would allow Keene State to have a track and field roster of up to approximately 80 students, compared to the current roster of approximately 30 students. 

“What we have been able to do in track and field and all outdoor sports with no or limited facilities over the years is impressive and this presents an opportunity to reach another level of success, helping to put us in contention for conference championships on a regular basis,” said Racicot.

Head track and field coach Dan Roark said that he is thrilled to be part of a significant project so early in his time at Keene State. “As I recently joined the Keene State College community within the last month, I am excited to be part of new growth and future plans for the cross country and track teams, athletics and the community as a whole. Keene State has a rich history in the sports of cross country and track and field and I am excited to be part of continuing success in all aspects of the program,” Roark said.

 Roark continued, “Personally, I am very excited for the future of the track and field program, and am excited to see how we develop and grow over the next few years.” 

In total, Treadwell said the project will be an investment of approximately $43 million. After the college receives the approval for this new facility, it will take approximately three months to construct. Treadwell said the current idea for the location of the new facility is at the Krif Rd. Owl Athletic Complex. Treadwell said she hopes that the site will be opened during the 2023-2024 academic year. 

The Equinox reached out to assistant track and field coach Crystal Blamy and junior Jacob Pearl. They did not respond to a request to comment. 

 

Piper Pavelich can be contacted

at ppavelich@kscequinox.com

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