Anonymous €3m donation to get new UCD athletics track up and running

Donation will cover cost of building the track and maintaining it over next 20 years

Prof Andrew Deeks: UCD has ‘always aspired to have a world-class athletics track’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Prof Andrew Deeks: UCD has ‘always aspired to have a world-class athletics track’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

After six seemingly hopeless years on the waiting list University College Dublin (UCD) is getting a new athletics track thanks to an anonymous €3 million donation.

The money will cover the cost of building the facility and maintaining it over the next 20 years. The previous track on the Belfield side of campus fell into disrepair in November 2011 and was subsequently ripped up. It now serves as a student car park.

The replacement site at the Clonskeagh end of the campus, in what is now termed the sports and recreation zone, had been designated at that time “subject to funding becoming available”.

However, none did, and for the six years since the largest student body in Ireland, some 32,000 people, was left without an athletics facility.

While the identity of the donor has not been revealed, there is the clear stipulation the track must be properly maintained, thereby avoiding a similar plight to the Belfield site. The original cost of a replacement track was estimated at €1.6 million.

Work is expected to get underway presently, and the eight-lane tartan-surface track will also feature the various in-field event facilities, such as long jump, hammer cage, all approved for competition purposes by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Delight

In welcoming the donation, UCD president Prof Andrew Deeks expressed his delight that the long wait for a new running track was coming to an end.

“With the support of this major philanthropic donation, the university is proud to announce that it is now able to move forward with the design, planning and development of a new athletics track,” he said.

“The university always aspired to have a world-class athletics track as part of the university’s overall sporting facilities, but lacked the funding to deliver on this aspiration. We are extremely grateful to the anonymous philanthropist who stepped into the breach, and whose generous donation will now fully enable the track project and the maintenance of the track for the next 20 years, after which the university is committed to maintaining the track.”

UCD has benefitted from similar donations in recent years, including the O’Brien Centre for Science, one of the main benefactors of which was businessman Denis O’Brien.

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