Upgrades To UNLV Track Underway After $1 Million Gift From Clark County
The Clark County Commission has its hands full with public safety issues, the airport, University Medical Center, housing and planning.
So what’s it doing giving $1 million to UNLV for more bleachers?
Former County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly headed the project as one of his final initiatives before terming out as a commissioner.
“These are dollars that are earmarked specifically for recreational uses and you can’t designate them or repurpose them for anything else,” Weekly explained.
Weekly said he had been talking to high school and UNLV track and field coaches about what their student-athletes needed for several years. So, when he looked at the final recreation money for his district he thought putting it toward track improvements was a good fit.
“When I looked at the dollars that I left in my parks budget I thought, ‘wow, this would be extremely awesome to be able to support what they’re doing at UNLV,” he said.
Lawrence said the improvements are more than just new bleachers. He said they're about making the facilities a place where large track events can be held.
“To me, this opens up doors to allow Coach Wade and her team to welcome teams here, to be able to do some enhancements here, to be able to host really good, viable track and field meets at their facility,” he said.
Right now, the people who come to see meets at the facility have to sit on the ground or on lawn chairs.
Yvonne Wade, who coaches UNLV's women's track and field team, agreed. She said better facilities means the school can host larger events, which allows for a better showcase for local student-athletes.
“The track project has been a piecemeal project. Little by little growing it to where we need it to be, but our goal is to host some major events, high school championships, and maybe a regional or national championship one day,” she said.
Currently, the school doesn't charge people to watch track meets, but Wade said other venues around the country do charge admission fees.
“Other events and venues across the country have been able to profit off it and bring in travelers for hotels and restaurants and transportation. It’s been a great impact to the city. That’s the goal for the future for sure," she said.
Weekly said there are dozens of other good causes that $1 million could help with, especially right now, but he believes, given the restrictions on where and how the money can be spent, the track project is one that will be for the community's greater good.
“We believe that this would not only be good for UNLV athletes but for surrounding residents who use that track regularly to exercise and recreate and then for our neighborhood track teams who are helping to get kids out the neighborhoods and get them into schools and help them earn scholarships," he said.
Lawrence Weekly, Former Commissioner, Clark County Commission; Yvonne Wade, Women's Track and Field Coach, UNLV