July 5, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — At a school whose athletic venues include such gems as Scott Stadium, John Paul Jones Arena, Davenport Field and Klöckner Stadium, Lannigan Field stands out. UVa’s track-and-field facility ranks among the least impressive in Division I, but University officials hope to change that sooner rather than later.
In a recent interview with Craig Littlepage, I asked him what capital projects, if any, are looming for UVa athletics.
“We continue to look at areas where we have a major need and where we have the opportunity to benefit multiple teams,” Littlepage said. “So in terms of greatest need, our need to do something with our track is certainly right at the top, in terms of a wish list.”
An improved facility would help UVa attract “significant events,” Littlepage said, which in turn would provide good exposure for “the University, the athletics department, and our track-and-field programs.”
Virginia’s 25 varsity teams include men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field. But other teams train periodically at Lannigan and also would benefit from an upgrade.
Jason Vigilante, who oversees UVa’s track and cross country programs, has made no secret of the fact that he’d welcome the offseason participation of players from Mike London’s football program.
“I know that Coach Vigilante and Coach London have talked about the dual-sport kids,” Littlepage said, “and if we have the right level of cooperation between those two programs and coaches, certainly there are benefits in addition to the training component of it.”
Other projects that Littlepage and the athletics department’s second in command, Jon Oliver, have mentioned in recent interviews: a second phase of improvements to The Park, UVa’s softball stadium; the addition of a bubble over one of the football practice fields, which would allow UVa teams to train indoors no matter the conditions outside; and indoor hitting bays at Birdwood Golf Course.
The indoor bays “would bring both our women’s and men’s golf programs up to what is, I’d say, probably a standard for national programs,” Littlepage said.
“We’ve done quite a bit in the last six or seven years which has supported golf. This is the one piece that is just so important for them to be able to have more training days, particularly when you get into December, January and February, when weather conditions might make it difficult to get a good workout.”
At the NCAA golf championships this spring, UVa’s men placed 11th. The women finished 13th.