Syracuse Online

Indoor Track

Shelter From the Snow

Published January 20, 2003 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Syracuse needs a dedicated indoor track facility. Strategically located and competently managed, it will satisfy the requirements of a diverse local constituency and appeal to a national audience. From elementary school competition to world championships, with ample practice times for joggers and runners alike, an indoor track will provide immeasurable benefits to all.

At the high school level, teams from around the region will trade-in practice in the hallways and the cafeteria for the relative safety of a regulation track. A dedicated track facility will permit restoring competition at the junior varsity and modified levels, and even extending it to the elementary schools.

At both ends of the day, an indoor track will appeal to those members of society whose work schedules dictate running at 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. Between these extremes, retirees and homemakers will gather for a social walk or a daily jog away from the hazards of icy pavements and crowded roads.

Proximity to running trails and auxiliary parking will further enhance the use of the track as a year-round facility. Climate control will further appeal to its clients, mitigating the cold of winter and the heat of summer, and taking away another excuse from the accidental runner.

Before sitting at the keyboard, the engineer in me reached for an old T-square and a slide rule. Preliminary drawings quickly took shape, and a quick estimate suggested that an indoor track facility with an eight-lane, 200-meter track, jumping and throwing pits, seating for 10,000 spectators, a spacious press box and 20,000 square feet of office space could fit on a 2-acre footprint. Open-air parking would require an acre for every 100 cars.

The office space will accommodate a shoe store that carries 2E wide running shoes, a specialty coffee store with amaretto cappuccino and low-fat almond croissants, an Internet room to combat email-withdrawal headaches, a running library with the latest books and newspaper articles, a supervised nursery with baby-sitting and diaper changing facilities, and plenty of locker and shower facilities.

Not unlike the Onondaga Nation ice skating rink or the Carrier Dome, the indoor track will be run by an expert in facilities management, rather than by a meet director. The goal of the manager will be to populate the calendar with quality events and ensure their success, while remaining faithful to the track's mission of serving the local community. A not-for-profit designation with an effective board of directors will further ensure the success of the mission.

© 2003 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at