ALINA PANEK, News Editor—The Mitchell Fieldhouse track was over 20 years old before Building Facilities, Jake Preston, Construction Manager for Denison, began managing the renovation for the surface.
The renovation began on September 23 and was initially planned to be done December 2. The posters in Mitchell announced after Thanksgiving break that the track is planning to be done around December 12.
According to the Varsity Track and Field coach, Mark Fitzpatrick, the renovation was needed because the surface conditions had deteriorated and become unsafe.
“The old Mitchell Fieldhouse track and tennis courts [have] served their purpose but it was time for them to be replaced,” Fitzpatrick wrote in an email to The Denisonian.
Some varsity teams have been displaced while the renovations began.
In the spring the track is used by baseball and softball for practice in the January and February and all varsity teams use it on occasion for strength and conditioning.
Coach Fitzpatrick was excited for the innovations that the new track surface could provide.
“Over the past 20 years, the surface materials have improved because of technology so our training and performances will be better while reducing the risk of injuries,” Fitzpatrick said.
The fieldhouse is also used recreationally by club teams, group exercise classes, and by Denison community members including faculty, staff, and Granville residents.
With the renovation, all teams, classes, and individuals had to relocate, causing a ripple effect throughout the community.
Priority for relocation was given to the athletes and many club sports and group exercise classes needed to relocate. For example, Denison Zumba, a group exercise class that normally is in the Mitchell Multipurpose or Cardio room has temporarily been relocated to rooms in the Eisner Center and Doane Dance until the track is done.
“The Mitchell Fieldhouse is the biggest indoor open space on campus so it is used for large special events such as Commencement and D-Day plus many other events,” Fitzpatick said. “What I’m trying to say is that the Mitchell Fieldhouse is used by the whole Denison community.”
This year, Denison Day (D-Day) was held in the Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, or the Rec Gym as many Denisonians call it, instead of its traditional location of the Mitchell Fieldhouse due to renovations.
Commencement for 2020 is still scheduled to be in the Mitchell Center according to the Denison website.
Many Denisonians are excited to see the new track, as evidenced by the frequent passerby in Mitchell pulling on the sheet to peek at the progress.
The track was delayed about two weeks due to a manufacturing blemish that was found. “Upon installation of the tennis court materials, the contractor noticed product blemish,” Preston said. “The manufacturer determined the product blemishes could cause long term problems. As a result, new (unblemished) mat is being manufactured and shipped from Italy. We are fortunate this deficiency was caught during installation and want to make sure the work is completed appropriately.”
Once finished, the fieldhouse will reopen to the whole community and will continue to operate as normal previous to the renovation.
“When all is said and done, I think the Denison community will be pleased with the ‘new’ Mitchell Fieldhouse,” Fitzpatrick said.