Loyola witnessed the installation of a new track and lighting system last summer. The construction process began June 2 and had to be completed by August 1. Beynon was the construction company tasked with installing the track. Although the idea to install a new track emerged around 10 years ago, the project started getting serious consideration two years ago.
Senior Director of Facilities Management Michael McDermott said, “Since the early 2000’s there was always talk between the athletic director and me about installing the new track. When we got some steam rolling with both lighting and the track we decided to do it together.”
The new lighting system features state-of-the-art equipment from the electric company Musco Sports Lighting.
“To give you some perspective on the quality of the lights, we average around 50 foot candles on the field,” McDermott said. “In order for FOX Sports to film, they require a minimum of 35, so it shows how we’re really above the bar on lighting.”
Although the previous track was installed back in the 1980’s, it was renovated back in 2006. McDermott said, “The original track was built in the early 80’s. We did an overlay on it back in 2006, where we went over the existing track and gave it another layer for a little more bounce.”
The entire construction process took a little under eight weeks. During that time Smith Field was unusable. All football practices that would have normally taken place on Smith Field were conducted on Hernandez Field, and various athletic summer school classes were relocated there as well.
In order for the football team to be ready to practice starting early August, the installation needed to be completed by August 1.
McDermott said, “We were on schedule for pretty much the entire process. We were able to finish on time. With large projects like this backup plans are always needed, so we had a plan in case we didn’t finish on time, but fortunately we didn’t have to use it.”
The construction project only involved one minor unexpected setback during the eight week process.
McDermott said, “One of the main water lines that delivered water to the sprinklers on Smith Field had been leaking underneath and caused a dip. The weight of the heavy equipment from the construction also probably widened the gap. Luckily, it was only a day and a half repair. It put us back a day or two but we were able to catch back up.”
Loyola track and field athletes have already commented on the high quality of the new track.
Senior David McAndrews said, “The material allows for fast times unlike last year where the track felt like almost cement or asphalt. I’m really looking forward to this new track where runners will be able to set records at home meets.”
Moreover, senior Jack Rothman said, “First off, I like how the new track is more blue than the old track. The new color of the track represents our new identity as a track team this year. The new track feels more like a spring. It feels better.”
McAndrews also thinks that the new track will help reduce injuries sustained during practice. He said, “The new track will definitely reduce a lot of the injuries that took place last year during practice. It’s a lot easier on the legs.”
Coaches and faculty members have also said how content they are with the new track and lighting.
McDermott said, “Many coaches have come up to me and told me they love it; the lighting is great for morning practices. Father Quinn is so excited. He was shooting all of his pictures without lighting. The lighting was perfect for his photos.”
Musco is the lighting company that supplies the lights Electro was the company that installed the lights.
“To determine what track we wanted, we got samples and looked at other tracks that had been built within the last two years.
“The original track was built in the early 80’s. We did an overlay on it back in 2006, where we went over the existing track and gave it another layer for a little more bounce. Since the early 2000’s there was always talk between the athletic director and me about installing the new track. When we got some steam rolling with both lighting and the track we decided to do it together. We were probably going to have to shut down the field for 6 weeks with the new track, so why not do both projects at the same time and be done in 8 weeks. Some alumni, parents, and friends of Loyola donated. It’s mainly donors but it can also be alums and parents or board members.
“It was basically a 1 million dollar job with the brand new track and the new lighting.”