RCA Dome Indoor Track Reborn
Butler University has taken the RCA Dome indoor track out of mothballs and put it to use in a temporary facility at Plainfield IN west of the Indianapolis airport.
INDIANAPOLIS IN 2/9/03 -- The RCA Dome indoor track that saw 39 still standing Division I and Division II NCAA records was dismantled in 1999 and put in storage. Now, a coalition of Indiana organizations led by Butler University coach Joe Franklin has taken the track out of storage and put it to use in a temporary facility at Plainfield IN. Several high school and college meets are being held this season. Here is the story of the salvage effort released by Butler University.
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THIS TRACK?
Built in Europe in 1985, this track was shipped to the United States and first used for competition in 1987 for the World Indoor Championships. Then from 1989 to 1999, Indianapolis was host to the NCAA DI Championships in the RCA Dome. In 1995, the DII Championships joined the party and continued until 1999. It was also used for a number of high school competitions during this time. Amazingly enough there are still 39 current NCAA DI & DII indoor track & field records that still stand that were attained in Indianapolis.
1999 was the last year the Championships were held in Indianapolis and in the next year the DI Championships went to the University of Arkansas and DII went to Boston where the Eastern Athletic Conference became the host. So what happened to the 200m, banked Mondo track? The track has been "living" in a number of climate controlled storage rooms in the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome since it was dismantled in 1999.
Fast forward 4 years later. Led by Butler head coach Joe Franklin, a number of Indianapolis organizations have come together to temporarily reconstruct the track in a building near the Indianapolis International Airport. The track will be utilized as a community resource for the 2003 indoor campaign and will be open for area high schools, universities, individuals and other running organizations for practice and to hold events.
"I've been trying to find a location for this track ever since we took it down in 1999," relates Coach Franklin. "You have no idea how many different routes to and from work I have driven just looking for empty buildings that would be large enough to hold the track. It truly is one of the fastest in the nation."
The square footage needed for the track oval is approximately 52,000 sq. ft. Additional space is needed for the weight throw sector and outside long jump and pole vault runways. Enter Duke Realty Corporation.
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER
In 2002, Butler developed a relationship with national commercial real estate company Duke Realty Corporation to find a building where Butler pole vaulters could set up a runway and practice through the winter. Butler has no facility on its campus that can accommodate vaulting.
"We were successful in working with Duke on this project, so we decided to think bigger."
In October of 2002, Coach Franklin again approached Duke and we began looking for a building that they weren't currently leasing that could be used as a temporary home for the track. Finding a building with enough square footage wasn't the issue, but finding one with the right spacing between vertical support beams was a challenge. In the end, there was only one building in the greater Indianapolis metropolitan area that would work.
Located in Plainfield, Indiana (just 8 miles west of the Indianapolis International Airport and 2 miles off of Interstate 70), the building is a brand new, never leased facility. After Duke agreed to allow Butler to relocate the track into the building, the next step was to convince the city to allow the track to be moved out of storage. A proposal was presented to the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) for the city of Indianapolis (the group that oversees use of the track).
In addition, the town of Plainfield was contacted and all requirements they stipulated were met. Back in Indy, the CIB approved the proposal and the wheels were set into motion.
I CAN'T BELIEVE WE ARE DOING THIS
"When I went back to the storage rooms to inspect the track, I got scared," honestly tells Coach Franklin. "I had forgotten how much "stuff" comprises everything you need to build the track. These rooms are huge and are stacked to the ceiling!"
Flying in the man who actually oversaw the construction of the track back in 1985 from the European Mondo office was necessary as we wanted to ensure that the track was still in good condition. The last thing we wanted was to move it out there and then find out that boards had warped and pieces were missing. Victor took 30 minutes to inspect the track that he himself had built over 18 years ago and declared that the RCA Dome had done a fantastic job of storing it. A relief this was, so we kept moving down our checklist.
Wheels. The next step was to find a trucking company that would take on the challenge of moving the 11 semi trailer loads needed to move the entire track. Working locally with Sodrel Logistics & Stoops Freightliner has been fantastic as they were able to drop their trailers off at the RCA Dome and go back to work while RCA Dome personnel loaded the trailers. Beginning Monday, January 6, the track began its 17 mile journey west.
SANTA LEFT US A FULL SCALE "TRACK IN A BOX" (Some assembly required)
Ever wondered how an indoor track is built? Yeah, we wondered about that too. We were about to find out.
Each day, 2-4 trailers were loaded in downtown Indianapolis, moved to Plainfield and unloaded in the new building. Monday through Thursday night a core group of 4-6 volunteers worked on forklifts to unload the nearly 200 aluminum support beams on which over 365 wooden structures are placed. Already attached to the wooden structures are a top sheet of plywood on which is glued the Mondo surfacing. In addition, over 100 rolls of Mondo were unloaded for use in the infield.
Thursday night was especially key as over 25 volunteers were needed to organize the stacks of the track and lay out the aluminum support structure. The goal was to have everything ready to go so construction could take place Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday.
To demonstrate how much of a true community effort this had become, the volunteers consisted of coaches & athletes from local high schools (Plainfield, Avon, Cathedral & Carmel), local colleges (University of Indianapolis, Franklin College, Butler University) and a handful of other running fanatics from the Indianapolis area. Some traveled as far as 60 miles round trip to lend a hand.
Friday morning, the track began to take shape. When constructed in the RCA Dome it was estimated to take 2 crews of 8 (1 team leader, 6 laborers & 1 forklift operator) between 4-5 (12) hour days to finish the assembly. This equates to 750-950 manhours of labor! Using RCA Dome personnel in the team leader positions, volunteers worked Friday to assemble approximately 80 meters of the 200 meter oval.
On Saturday 2 crews again tackled the track and completed another 35 meters of the more complicated sections of the track. Another group began assembling the hand rail on the outside of the first turn and the footrail along the inner edge of lane 1.
Sunday saw the most progress as all but 25 meters of the oval was completed, the 36 rolls of Mondo were unrolled to create the 60 meter, 8 lane sprint straightaway. Because we aren't limited by space in our building, we placed the sprint straightaway along the front straight of the oval on the OUTSIDE of the track, not the inside where it was designed to be placed. The portable pole vault runway was also transported to the building and set up in the infield where the sprint straight usually is located.
Monday was the day we were all waiting for. The oval was completed! We also built the long jump runway and landing area and prepared the more than 40 rolls of Mondo used for the high jump area.
Throughout the rest of the week the facility progressed towards being approximately 90% complete. Finishing touches are being added every day.
WANTED: INDIANAPOLIS COMMUNITY USAGE
So now that we have a dedicated facility for track & field, what do we do with it?
Butler pulled a Quadrangular meet together on VERY short notice on Saturday, January 18. University of Indianapolis, Indiana State University, Butler University & University of Louisville competed.
Butler will also move it's established 3 meet indoor series to the venue hosting the Stan Lyons Open, Smith Barney Invitational and Cannon IV Classic through January & February. These competitions have historically been held in the Fitness Center at the National Institute for Fitness & Sport (NIFS) which houses a nearly identical 200 meter, hydraulically bankable Mondo track that was used as a warm up facility for the 1988 Olympic Trials. While it is a blazing quick track and has great staff that made the transformation process from fitness center to collegiate track venue a quick one, it wasn't ideal as the throws and pole vault competitions couldn't be held in the facility due to space constraints.
High school & middle school practice & meets as well as youth clinics are also being planned for the facility. Because so much has happened in such a short amount of time, we haven't been able to definitively schedule all the events that will occur. Eventually, information for public usage will be available and posted on RCA Dome Track Reborn.
The goal is to make it available for as many central Indiana individuals and organizations in the next 3 months as possible. If it has to be disassembled at the end of March, we would like to be able to demonstrate that there is a local demand for a permanent facility. Then it would again be up to the community to come together to support such an initiative.
Those in our community that have supported this effort include:
Cathedral High School
Corporations & Organizations