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RANDALL’S ISLAND, NY-One of the signs that New York is gearing up to be a possible Olympics venue is the $37 million development of a world-class track and field center on Randall’s Island-the only one of its kind in New York City.

According to the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, the 10,000-seat center now under construction for a summer 2004 unveiling will far exceed the expectations of all track and field competitors and spectators. The center will be the only local facility to host international competition and Olympic Trials, and will also be a nexus for the general public including the disabled, and the private and public school community.

The stadium is being built on the former site of the antiquated Downing Stadium, the site of Olympic Trials in 1936 and 1991. The foundation is working together with New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. They selected Bovis Lend Lease LMB Inc. as construction manager, Hillier as prime architect, and Ricardo Zurita Architecture and Planning, associate architect, to provide design and construction management services for the construction. The facility which will meet IAFF Competition Category 3 requirements to accommodate championships including Olympic trial meets, will have a Mondo track and provide covered stadium seating for 5,000; support facilities for participants and spectators; and an additional 5,000 open bleacher seats.

There will be two 160-foot high light towers that will function dually as a source of light for track and field events, and to illuminate the skyline. The towers, located at opposite ends of the stadium, will also serve as structural piers for a series of suspension cables supporting a slim-profiled, slightly inclined, flat roof that will appear to hover above the stadium seating. Another cable, arching from the base of one tower to a height of 75 feet at the center and back down to the base of the second tower, will stabilize this suspension structure. The stadium’s ground level will accommodate locker, training, and storage facilities. A broad staircase, supplemented by an elevator, will provide separate spectator access to the concourse level, with public toilets, concession stands, and through-passageways to the spectator seating, which is oriented to give panoramic views of Manhattan as well as excellent track and field sightlines. All levels provide for wheelchair access and accommodations.

Phase one–the demolition of the antiquated Downing Stadium was funded through public and private contributions and has been completed. Now in its early stages, Phase two includes construction of a first-class facility meeting UST&F & IAFF standards for international competition and Olympic trials, covered seating for 5,000 spectators, temporary bleachers for an additional 5,000 people, and design specifications to include the disabled.

Nearly 700,000 visitors come each year to Randall’s and Wards Island Park for sports, recreation and environmental education activities. Earlier this year, more than $3.2 million in funding was earmarked for the protection and restoration of Randall’s and Wards Island Park, part of a joint effort of the State, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and the RISF to increase public access and enjoyment of this urban park.

Back in 2001, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced the beginning of several major initiatives at the area. Together, they were expected to create more than 500 May through September jobs, generate approximately $1.5 million in direct revenue annually for the city and approximately $1.25 million in tax revenue.

The Randall’s Island Sports Foundation was created in 1992 as a public/private partnership for managing the recreational activities on Randall’s and Wards Island.

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