Construction has begun on Indiana State University’s first new athletic facility in 25 years.
Student athletes jogged into place carrying golden shovels and a shot from a starter’s pistol served as the signal for university administrators, coaches, donors and others to break ground Monday for the first phase of a new track and field complex.
Pending approval by the university’s Board of Trustees in May, the facility will be named “Gibson Track and Field” in recognition of the Max and Jacquie Gibson family’s leadership in promoting the development of competitive athletic venues and for providing longstanding philanthropic support, including a significant gift for this project, university President Daniel J. Bradley said.
“It should come as no surprise that the same visionaries who were involved in creating the LaVern Gibson course are engaged in making this track and field a reality,” said Bradley. They understand the impact that first-rate facilities can have on a community through the attraction of local, regional and national competitions.”
The facility at 400 N. First Street is Indiana State’s first new intercollegiate athletic venue since 1989. It is also the first major project in Terre Haute’s Riverscape development area.
“One of Indiana State’s strategic goals is to partner with our community in revitalizing the downtown, including its riverfront,” said Bradley. “Indiana State is proud to serve as a catalyst in helping transform the banks of the Wabash River from an abandoned industrial site into a destination for family friendly activities.”
Bradley said the university is partnering with the Wabash River Development and Beautification Board in envisioning a sports and recreational area along the river banks that includes extended trails for walking, jogging and biking.
“I’m excited … that we’re going to have new development on the riverfront. This is the beginning of many projects along the river,” said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett.
“Our track program is one of our most consistently successful athletic programs,” noted Ron Prettyman, Indiana State’s director of intercollegiate athletics. “This is a great day in our athletic history.”
The $4.3 million track and field facility marks the first newly constructed athletic venue since the Eleanor Forsythe St. John softball complex. Christy Barrett Sherman, a 1991 Indiana State graduate and four-time NCAA track and field All-American, said she is proud to watch the dream of a facility to replace the nearly 50-year-old Marks Field become a reality.
“This facility will make a difference – not only here but to all who are involved in sports throughout our area and the state,” she said. “Each and every Sycamore who has been a part of this program can take great pride in knowing that our hard work and success have paid off. Future Sycamores will now be rewarded with an outstanding complex to train at and to continue the tradition of Sycamore track and field standouts and championships.”
Bradley said university leaders hope the track and field facility, scheduled for completion this fall, will serve as the site for competitive meets at the local, regional and national levels.
“If we are successful in replicating a fraction of what has been accomplished with the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, it could have a major economic impact on our community,” he said.
Charlie Williams, president of the Wabash River Development and Beautification Board, said this project and others to come will improve the quality of life in Terre Haute.
“Much will be gained as the Riverscape plan unfolds. I joined the group because I believe it is Terre Haute’s opportunity of a lifetime to elevate the way people, both internally and externally, think of our city,” he said. “Let’s hope the Riverscape plan runs faster and jumps higher in making our quality of place a champion for all to know and enjoy.”
(source: Illinois State University Press Release)