|IOWA CITY, Iowa — If it’s good enough for the World Championships, it’s good enough for the University of Iowa. That was the thought going through Joey Woody’s mind in 2014.
Then an assistant coach with the University of Iowa track and field team, Woody made a casual inquiry to representatives from Beynon — the industry leader in sports surfacing — about facility renovations to the UI Rec Building.
Beynon, it turns out, had what Woody was looking for. The 2016 Track and Field Indoor World Championships were scheduled for Portland, Oregon, and Beynon was tasked with building an indoor track for the event. What Beynon didn’t know was what would become of the surface after the event.
“They told me they were building it for the Indoor World Championships, and afterwards they would have to sell it,” Woody said.
They didn’t have a buyer, and that bit of news grabbed Woody’s attention. A few months later, when Woody was promoted to UI director of track and field, he revisited the topic.
“We live in Iowa, so I know how important it is to have a quality indoor track,” Woody said.
Fortunately, his administration agreed, and after approval from the Board of Regents, a purchase ordered secured a World Championship track.
“It’s a game changer,” Woody said. “Our facility is nice, but this track is going to take us from the middle of the pack in the Big Ten, to one of the best in the world.”
The University of Iowa took over complete operation of the UI Rec Building in July. Installation began Oct. 17, and by the end of fall, more than 2,000 tons of steel will be turned into a six-lane, 200-meter banked track unlike any other in the United States.
“The entire infield is raised,” Woody said. “It’s all on a stage and set up for big-time performances.”
That’s not just lip service either. For the first time in school history, University of Iowa track and field is attracting programs from coast-to-coast. The Hawkeyes host Florida State on Jan. 20-21, Notre Dame is visiting Jan. 27-28, and names like Texas, USC, and Washington have eyed putting Iowa City on their calendar.
“We have given schools a reason to come to Iowa City,” Woody said. “We are attracting great teams, which makes for an entertaining product. Our fans will love it. The elevated track gives it an arena feel that produces a lot of energy. It’s exciting; we’re going to be rolling.”
The indoor schedule includes five home meets, starting Jan. 7 with the annual border battle with Illinois and Missouri. The Hawkeye Challenge is Jan. 14, and the Hawkeye Invitational is Jan. 20-21. The Big Ten Challenge is Jan. 27-28, and the Silver Hawk Invitational is Feb. 17.
Barring any setbacks, the Hawkeyes will unveil their new track Dec. 3 at the Black and Gold Intrasquad meet.