Wichita State University dedicated its track and field facility, the 30,000-seat Cessna Stadium, April 16, 2002 to mark the end of the seven-month, $1.3 million construction that included adding an eighth lane and resurfacing the track, reconfiguring the infield event layout, and building separate locker rooms for the Shocker men's and women's track and field teams.
"This is one of the most significant construction developments on our campus for many years," said Jim Schaus, WSU director of athletics. "It will be one of the finest track complexes in the country. The new track will provide a better venue for WSU Track and Field, Kansas State High School Track Championships, Kansas Special Olympics and may other meets in the future. It will also provide a better recreational facility for our campus and community. Many thanks to our supporters who made this long-standing dream a reality."
The most noticeable amenity is the addition of an eighth-lane, and a new, thicker polyurethane surface. The new track also has a wider radius, which allowed for additional space inside the track for field events. The combination of the new thicker, more durable surface, and the slightly wider turns, is a noticeable faster track for runners.
In addition, reconfiguration of the high-jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault areas allows for flexibility in managing track and field events.
"The number of ways that an eight-lane track and reconfigured layout in a state-of-the-art track and field facility will enhance the program at Wichita State are immeasurable because of the variety of groups it impacts," said Steve Rainbolt, second-year WSU head track and field coach. "Primary for me is the Wichita State track and field program, but I'm also a guy that cares a lot about the track and field coaches and athletes that will compete in the KSHSAA championship. The facility will benefit them tremendously.
"The facility will impact our student-athletes by allowing them to train and compete in a brand-new, beautiful track and field facility.
It improves every facet of what we do, from training, hosting upper-level competitions like the K.T. Woodman and future Valley championships, and recruiting."
The first event in the renovated facility was WSU's annual K.T. Woodman Track and Field Classic, which is scheduled every April. Cessna Stadium hosted the North American finale of the Rolling Stones' 2006 Bigger Bang Tour in October.
With the renovated facility also come new recreational use hours which are Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Exceptions to that are WSU's scheduled track and field practice, or other scheduled events. For further information on scheduling the facility, contact Scott Noble at 316/978-5556.
Gary Musselman, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, also spoke at the dedication, and relayed the organization's thoughts on the renovation. The Kansas state high school track and field championship, which has been a fixture Cessna Stadium for many years, is contested every May.
"This is the best high school track and field meet in the nation," Musselman said. "If you have not been to it, it is 12 track meets in one. It is a special, special atmosphere. We're awfully proud of it.
"I want to thank the Armstrong's, and anyone involved with donating services, time, money, prayers, everything, to this tremendous accomplishment. The contractors included. I understand what that is taking.
"We have more than 3,000 athletes that participate in this meet every year. (Adding) that eighth lane to this track potentially increases the number of participants and athletes to between 500 and 600 hundred additional. And those athletes will bring anywhere from two to 20 family members. We're going to see a tremendous number of people who would have not been here otherwise."
The renovation of the Cessna Stadium track was made possible by a gift from E. W. "Pete" and Mickey Armstrong, while the locker room and team room renovation was assisted by a gift from the Cessna Foundation. In addition, Christine Polk gave a gift in honor of her late husband, Jack G. Paulsen, a former track and field athlete at WSU.
Originally constructed in 1969, and renovated in 1996, Cessna Stadium, a 31,500-seat football-track and field facility at the time, was built over the site of the Shockers' former home, Veterans Field.
One of the most modern and complete football facilities in the nation at the time of its completion, Cessna Stadium was home to Shocker football until 1986, and is still the venue of the Kansas State High School Track and Field Championship, the Shockers' annual K.T. Woodman Track Classic, as well as several Missouri Valley Conference Track and Field Championship meets.
The stadium has also played host to numerous Kansas State High School Football Championship games; the Shrine Bowl, Kansas's high school all-star football game; Pittsburg State-Mesa State Division II football game; and numerous High School City League football games.
Cessna Stadium has also been the venue of several community events through the years, including the Cessna Aircraft Company's Race Against Hunger, as well as the Wichita's annual Black Arts Festival, and community fireworks during the Fourth of July.
* 30,000-seat track and field facility
*A new polyurethane surface is now thicker and more durable which creates a faster track.
*The track now has a wider radius, thus providing slightly wider turns and a faster track for runners, and additional space inside the track for field events.
*There are now options available, unlike in the past, where running events can be moved to accommodate athletes in regard to wind direction.
*Conduits were run to assist in moving timing.
Field Event Locations
*High jump area has been doubled so two high jump contests can be run simultaneously.
*Two permanent pole vaulting runs were rebuilt with three pads, creating the ability to run two pole vault events simultaneously.
*Long jump and triple jump runs on west side of track and can be run simultaneously. The option is also available to run two long jumps simultaneously.
*New javelin, hammer and discus areas were created last fall to the southwest of the stadium.
*Two locker rooms were created in space under the west grandstands to house the men's and women's teams separately. The renovation created a team room for student-athletes.
*Monday-Friday, 6:30 am-5:30 pm
*Exceptions to that are WSU's scheduled track and field practice, or other scheduled events.
*The public is encouraged to enter through the center East gate to access the facility.
*Contact Brad Pittman at 316/978-5556 to schedule events.