Plans for new UCD athletics track now up and running

Hopes high that badly-needed facility can be completed by the summer of 2020

The new site was put in place not long after the original track at the Belfield end of UCD was suddenly closed in November 2011. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The new site was put in place not long after the original track at the Belfield end of UCD was suddenly closed in November 2011. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

One year after an anonymous €3 million donation secured the future of the athletics track at University College Dublin (UCD), the design and planning phase is now up and running. 

A planning application notice has been erected at the site, which comprises of c. 3.73 hectares on lands located at the Sports Precinct of UCD, at the Richview/Clonskeagh end of the campus. 

According the planning application, “the development comprises of an 8 lane, 400m IAAF synthetic athletics track with ancillary surface sport facilities for athletics, and a grass infield area suitable for athletics, and multiple field sports with line markings as required”.

There will also be “track training lighting (up to 18m high)” and “conduit to allow for electronic timing and scoring to the infield”. 

The design work is being carried out by Heneghan Peng Architects. Once planning is approved, it is estimated there will be a 19-month build period, some of which may be weather-dependent, for completion by the summer of 2020. 

That may not come in time to benefit student athletes preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but central to that €3m donation, the identity of the philanthropist still unknown, is that the new track be built to last. The money is enough for the building of it and also its maintenance for the next 20 years, and the immediate priority was to ensure the prime track location. 

The new site was put in place not long after the original track at the Belfield end was suddenly closed in November 2011, blamed on fears for “health and safety” when effectively it was simply worn and torn. 

Student car park

After that original track closed, the cost of rebuilding a new one was estimated to be around €1.6 million, “subject to funding becoming available”; only for six years it didn’t, and not long after that the track was partially ripped up to serve as a student car park. 

It has also been recommended to use the double-rubber track foundation, more suitable to training and long-term use, rather than the Mondo brand favoured by the more strictly competitive tracks. 

The Clonskeagh location also fits with the now sporting end of UCD, on that west side of the campus where Leinster Rugby also have their training pitches, and next to the Olympic-size swimming pool, the national hockey stadium (currently being planned for an upgrade), and the UCD Bowl. 

The absence of an athletics track had been a particularly sore point, however, UCD having the largest student body in Ireland, some 32,000 people in all.

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