It’s been a transitional year for Penn Athletics, with the biggest news surrounding the Quakers coming from the program’s off-the-field makeover. But now, it seems that the Red and Blue have brought their full-scale makeover to the field itself.
Franklin Field, that is.
Franklin Field — the competitive home to several Penn Athletic programs, including football and track — will be closed for the duration of the summer.
The facilities were closed from May 11 to 19 to help accommodate Commencement festivities for the University’s graduating class, after which work began to renovate the field’s track. Throughout the summer, the old track surface will be completely excavated and replaced with a new one in time for fall season practices beginning in early September.
With Penn’s athletes on break for the summer, the field’s summer closure should not have much of an effect on Penn Athletics in particular, but rather on the general public. Franklin Field’s track is usually open for public use during normal weekday business hours.
The renovation comes on the heels of a busy past few months for the Frank.
In addition to hosting Commencement, the historic site has also played host to the world’s largest annual track and field meet — the Penn Relays — and the Ivy League outdoor track and field championships, otherwise known as the Heptagonals, in which the men finished third and the women finished fifth.
This heavy use — along with the facility’s additional use from Penn’s lacrosse and football squads and the University’s annual Spring Fling concert — may have contributed to the need for a new track surface.
Much like the neighboring Palestra, Franklin Field is one of the most culturally significant sports facilities in Philadelphia’s sports history. From the many runnings of the Penn Relays to the early incarnations of the Philadelphia Eagles, the field has seen a lot in 120 years of existence.
However, although some of its original bricks still stand steadfast today, it is no surprise that this is by no means the first renovation that the facility has seen. In fact, $25 million has been invested in the Frank’s new fitness facility as recently as 2010.
The track’s renovation is a natural extension of Penn Athletics total makeover that has occurred over the past two years, starting with the hiring of current athletic director M. Grace Calhoun in early 2014.
Calhoun’s hiring has been followed by major coaching turnover amongst Penn’s two marquee sports: football and men’s basketball. Recently-appointed head coaches Ray Priore and Steve Donahue will surely look to give Penn’s two most historied athletic programs a new look, given their recent struggles.
It is only fitting that the university has followed suit by giving its most historic athletic facility a new look to match.Comments powered by Disqus
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