The most talked-about aspect of Texas Tech’s Sports Performance Center might be what the new facility can do for the Red Raiders’ football program. For the football team, however, it’s an alternative for practice on bad-weather days and a recruiting tool.
The $48 million facility will be a competition venue for the Tech track and field teams — and certain to host major meets.
Tech coach Wes Kittley revealed last week that Tech will host the Big 12 indoor track and field championships in 2019. That’s probably just a start. Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt has said when the Sports Performance Center comes on line, it could allow Tech to host the Big 12 meet every other year.
Iowa State has hosted the Big 12 indoor meet every year since 2013. Put another way: Iowa State has hosted the Big 12 indoor meet every year since Nebraska and Texas A&M, the only other schools to host it since 2000, left the conference.
“We have (hosting rights in) ‘19 guaranteed,” Kittley said. “Iowa State would not give it up for next year. They had the bid, and they want to have it in ‘18. So right now, we have ‘19. We are hosting the national junior college (NJCAA) championships next year on this new track and we’ll have, of course, four or five other meets there along with that.”
The Sports Performance Center will be a multi-purpose venue with an 80-yard football field on the east side and an indoor track and field facility on the west side, partitioned by sliding aircraft hangar doors that are 30 feet tall. The facility is to be substantially complete by Sept. 1, Tech vice chancellor Michael Molina said last week.
Tech likes to host multiple regular-season indoor meets, but has been unable to the last two years. When the roof of the Athletic Training Center — the teams’ previous indoor competition venue — collapsed on New Year’s Eve not quite 14 months ago, it forced the Red Raiders to cancel their 2016 home schedule, which included three college meets. And the tear-down of the old facility and the ongoing construction of the new then left the Red Raiders unable to host any 2017 indoor meets.
So they’ll make up for it next year.
“I want to stay here every week,” Kittley said, “but I’m sure we’ll travel somewhere. But I expect five or six meets a year here and try to travel (to a regular-season meet) where the national championships are going to be, just so we can get on that track.
“We love Arkansas. It’s really been a great opportunity. It’s one of the best tracks and facilities, I think, in the country. That’s one place we might go. (Texas) A&M is nationals again next year. We might go there. We don’t like it as well for certain events as we do others.
“But we’re going to stay home mostly and try to bring some of the biggest schools in the country to us.”
Kittley said he’d love, at some point, to be able to host the NCAA indoor championships. One requirement is the ability to seat 4,000 spectators.
“We’ll have to add some stands,” he said, “which I think we can do. But we’re going to be set up for about 3,000 people for anything. And Big 12, normally if you’ve got 1,500 to 2,000, it’s good. Iowa State doesn’t even have 500 seats, and they’ve been hosting it. I think, though, in Texas we’d get a much bigger crowd.”