THE WORLD'S BEST PERFORM AT DRAKE STADIUM
Historic Drake Stadium is much more than one of the premier track and field facilities in the country. It has played host to some of the greatest track and field performances of all time.
Drake Stadium hosted the 2007 NCAA Midwest Regional Track and Field Championships, the 2008 and 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships, and the 2010 USA Track & Field Championships. Drake Stadium will also be hosting the 2012 NCAA Track & Field Outdoor Championships on June 6-9.
The stadium (current capacity: 14,557) has undergone significant improvements in modern history. Following the 2005 Iowa State High School Track and Field Championships, Drake embarked on the most significant renovation project of Drake Stadium since the stadium was dedicated in the fall of 1925. The track was reconfigured and the new Mondo-surfaced track had lanes widened from 42 inches to 48 inches.
With the removal of Clark Street, behind the old Drake Stadium scoreboard, new venues for the javelin, discus and hammer throws were constructed.
The $15 million renovation project also features permanent lights, a video scoreboard, state of the art artificial grass infield by FieldTurf for football and soccer, along with improvements to the seating, restrooms and concessions as well as the press box.
Drake Stadium has become a symbol on the Drake campus. It's a spectacle every April as thousands of fans pack within its walls to cheer on track and field competitors from all over the world. In fact, it has been the fans’ rapport with the countless number of competitors that has contributed to Drake Stadium's reputation as one of the most popular track and field venues in America today.
In addition to the Drake Relays, the Stadium plays host to many other major events nationally and statewide. In 1970, it was the site for the biggest collegiate event of the year when it hosted the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Drake Stadium hosts the Iowa High School Boys and Girls State track championships every May.
Numerous world, national and collegiate records have been set here over the years. Drake Relay fans have seen 14 world records, 49 American records and 56 national collegiate records to be exact. In 1914 during the fifth Drake Relays, Illinois' two-mile relay team ran 8:00.0 to equal the national collegiate, American and world records.
Hundreds of Olympic gold medalists have competed at Drake Stadium including Harrison Dillard, Bob Hayes, Jim Hines, Bruce Jenner, Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Ralph Metcalfe, Bobby Morrow, Rodney Milburn, Al Oerter, Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph, Calvin Smith, Frank Shorter, Gwen Torrence, Jeremy Wariner, Mac Wilkins and Dave Wottle.
Jesse Owens was selected "the athlete of the first half century"; of Drake Relays competition for the impact he made in his 1935 appearance. Owens, then a sophomore at Ohio State, had finished winning a heat of the 100 when he was called to the broad jump. Scarcely pausing, he raced down the cinder runway and soared more than 26 feet for the first time in his career. The official reading was 26 feet 1 ¾ inches, an American record and less than an inch off the world record. Most remarkably, Owens took off nine inches before reaching the takeoff board, which is eight inches wide. That meant Owens actually jumped 17 inches further than the existing record.
Bob Ehrhart became Drake Relays director in 1970 and saw one world record; three American records and 15 Drake Relays meet record rewritten during his inaugural year. Texas A&M, behind a sterling anchor leg by Curtis Mills, set a world record in the 880-yard relay in 1:21.7.
Making his Drake Relays debut, 2004 Olympian Alan Webb ran a 2007 world outdoor best in the invitational mile of 3 minutes 51.71 seconds to break one of the oldest Drake Relays records of 3:55.26, set by American record holder Steve Scott in 1979.
At the time, Webb's performance was the fastest time ever run in the mile by anyone in the world in the month of April. The previous was 3:52.14 by Johan Fourie of Russia in 1986.
Drake Stadium, as it stands today, is the second edifice to be constructed on the area on the north edge of the Drake University campus.
The first stadium was built in 1904 with 2,500 seats as a gift from Norman Haskins in honor of his son Alvin A. Haskins, an 1884 Drake College of Law graduate who had died in 1896.
The original name of the stadium was Haskins Field, but was changed to Drake Stadium at the request of the elder Haskins. In 1907 additional seating was added to bring the capacity to 6,700 and a drainage system also was added to improve the stadium. In 1925, a new Drake Stadium was constructed to seat 18,000 fans in a building project that also furnished the campus with the 4,000 seat Drake Fieldhouse.
All athletes have benefited by improved track and field facilities, especially from the installation of new track surfaces. The installation of a $175,000 tartan track in 1969 replaced the cinder track. It was a magnificent 60th birthday present for Drake Relays competitors and fans.
In 1976, all individual events at the Drake Relays went metric; in 1978, the conversion was completed with rebuilding of the track into a 400-meter oval so that relay races, too, could go metric.
The track was resurfaced in 1983. Drake President Michael Ferrari and Relay officials honored longtime pubic address announcer Jim Duncan in 1988 by renaming the Drake Stadium Track, "The Jim Duncan Track."
The Jim Duncan Track was resurfaced in the summer of 1989 in Drake blue school colors, featuring a combination of polyurethane coating and EPDM rubber granules.
In early 2005, the Stadium's field was officially named Johnny Bright Field after the former Drake football player. Bright, who played for Drake in the late 1940s and early 1950s, received numerous awards, including the national collegiate total offense crown.
"My favorite track meet in the U.S. is the Drake Relays. I like running at Drake...the crowds really respect you and you want to do it for the crowd. There's nothing that can compare to the environment and crowds at Drake Stadium. The people go all out for this meet when it comes to town. The fans are some of the most knowledgeable in track. It is like being at a track meet in Europe."
World record holder and five-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson
"They did a great job. It is a beautiful facility. Hopefully, they can hold a lot more meets than the Drake Relays."
Two-time 2004 Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner
"It's unbelievable. Other than the Olympic Games or the World Championships, I haven't experienced anything like this with this many athletes. I think this would be a great facility to host the USA Championships. The stands are full, and I'm really excited I was able to come up here and compete."
2003 World Decathlon champion Tom Pappas
"This was probably one of the loudest crowds I have ever run in front of. More then just the atmosphere, not just while I was running, but I feel this event is more than the crowd being into it. The hospitality I have been shown, it's amazing. The people in this town really get into it. I was amazed. It just shows how this part of the country really enjoys track and field. I hope that some people that are in charge of putting (other) meets on can take notice and see how popular and exciting track and field can be. If we use this meet as an example of how excited people can get, the sky's the limit. I have been to some pretty big meets with not many people there, so I think the people here at Drake can show people how it's done.
2004 Olympian Alan Webb