New floor, track in store for URI’s Mackal Field House

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Preparations under way for floor removal

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 6, 2011 – The University of Rhode Island’s largest indoor facility for recreational sports and fitness and will be getting a new floor and track during the next six to eight weeks.

Preparation is already under way at the Mackal Field House for the installation of state-of-the-art surfaces for the four basketball courts and track, which is home to the URI indoor track teams and the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track Championships.

Departments of Athletics and Recreational Services officials had hoped to have the $1.4 million project done by the end of September, but purchasing processes held it up. The project will put new surfaces on a concrete slab of 55,000 square feet.

“We know this work is an inconvenience for our students and other community members who use this facility,” said Jodi Hawkins, director of Recreational Services and Programs. “The University did everything possible to expedite this project, but we just obtained the OK to proceed from the state last week. While we hate to interrupt service in the middle of the semester, we believe our students, student-athletes and staff will be thrilled with these gold- standard surfaces.”

The Mackal Field House weight room and cardio center will remain open throughout the project.

Mackal opened in 1991, and the original floor and track lasted until 2003, when a new urethane surface was poured over it. Eight years later, the current floor and track are showing signs of significant reversion, a process that turns some portions of the floor into a semi-liquid, sticky state. Some portions of the floor have been closed for about four years, which limited access for drop-in basketball and volleyball. Chemists brought in to research the problem theorize that moisture in the concrete slab is the cause of the reversions.

After using plastic sheeting to protect the sections of the facility that are open to the track and courts from dust, workers began Thursday (Oct. 6) to tear up the two old problematic floors. During the preparation and removal phases, the University is conducting air quality monitoring to ensure the safety of the Mackal staff members. In addition to the athletic and recreation facilities, the building houses main offices for the Departments of Athletics and Recreational Services.

Once the old floor is removed, workers will patch any cracks in the concrete expansion joints, remove any traces of the old floor and smooth the entire concrete surface. Then, the concrete will be sealed with a moisture mitigation coating to prevent moisture from entering the floor from the concrete slab.

The floor and track are expected to be installed no later than mid-November. Art Tuveson, assistant director of athletics for facilities management and planning said Mondotrack FTX will be installed on the track and Mondo Sportsflex M will be installed on the multipurpose court area. The track surface is the same one that will be used for the 2012 London Olympic Games and most recently in the Beijing Games in 2008. The final step is striping the track and multipurpose courts, which will be done according to NCAA certification standards.

Tuveson said these are the best products on the market today for a high use facility like Mackal, which also hosts commencement events, admission open houses and high school track events.

Unlike the previous two floors, the Mondo surfaces will not be poured. They will be laid out in long rubber sheets and then cut into place. When certain high use sections of the facility, such as the pole vault and long jump areas, wear out, the University will simply be able to cut those sections, remove them and replace them with new sheets.

“This will be the best indoor track surface in the Atlantic 10 Conference, and this is perfect for our very competitive Division I track programs,” Tuveson said.

“To have our multipurpose courts back in circulation will be awesome,” Hawkins said. “This is a great surface for basketball and volleyball.”