Prep Track and Field

Finally, Kingston Stadium will be home to an 8-lane track

Other stadium improvements include turf replacement, elimination of north bleachers

The track and playing surface during the John Ask Relays at Kingston Stadium on Tuesday. The stadium will be renovated this summer, a move that will include expansion of the track from seven lanes to eight. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The track and playing surface during the John Ask Relays at Kingston Stadium on Tuesday. The stadium will be renovated this summer, a move that will include expansion of the track from seven lanes to eight. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Kingston Stadium’s big-meet obsolescence is about to end.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District will begin a three-month, $2 million upgrade on the stadium, beginning May 6.

“It’s A-OK by me,” said Maurice Blue, head coach of the football and boys’ track and field teams at Cedar Rapids Washington. “Some of (the improvements) are long overdue.”

Highlights include:

• New turf on the football/soccer field.

• Elimination of the crumbling concrete bleachers in the north horseshoe, to be replaced by a grassy hillside.

• Expansion of the track to eight lanes.

Since it’s track season, let’s discuss that first.

On the day of state-qualifying meets, Kingston has sat dormant in recent years because its seven-lane oval does not meet guidelines by the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, which require eight lanes.

And with the Mississippi Valley Conference’s 2018-19 expansion to 16 teams (eight in each division), a seven-lane track no longer meets MVC standards, either.

“It has limited us, no doubt,” Kennedy Athletics Director Aaron Stecker said. “For a stadium as large as Kingston not to be able to host one of the most important track meets of the year, it’s unfortunate.”

Kennedy is the host school of this year’s MVC Valley Division boys’ meet in two weeks. The site will be Mount Mercy University.

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When construction begins, the fence to the outside of Lane 7 will be removed, the entire track resurfaced and widened to accommodate an eighth lane, and a universal finish line will be moved a few meters to the south of its present spot.

The walkway outside the fence will no longer exist; the only access to the bleachers will be from behind.

“We needed to resurface anyway, taken down to the base,” Stecker said. “Why rebuild a seven-lane track?”

Kingston was built in 1952, and grass was the playing surface for football and soccer until FieldTurf was installed in 2009. The 10-year life span of the turf has run out.

A new carpet will be installed, two-tone green, alternating each 5 yards. The names of the three Cedar Rapids public schools — Jefferson, Kennedy and Washington — will each adorn a corner, then “Kingston” in the fourth corner.

As for the elimination of the north-end concrete, which has been vacant for decades:

“It’s an eyesore,” Stecker said. “We’ve got to get rid of it. That will clean the place up a lot.”

High-school athletics facilities are “an arms race,” Blue said. “Every time you go out of town, somebody has something brand new and big. We want to keep kids here, and to do that, sometimes, you need nice, shiny stuff.”

The target date for completion of the project is Aug. 16.

“That will give us two weeks to get ready before the first week of football,” Stecker said.

Kennedy faces Jefferson on Aug. 30.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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