OCEAN BREEZE — A long-delayed $112 million track and field facility in Staten Island will finally open Thursday, promising competitions that will bring athletes from across the country.
The state-of-the-art Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex, at 625 Father Capodanno Blvd., had a soft opening earlier this month and will start a schedule of about 90 classes on Thursday and host its first track meet on Dec. 5.
"It is a track and field elite competition opportunity, both for athletes locally as well as for the community to be exposed to the track and field industry and the sport," said Adena Long, assistant commissioner for public programs for the Parks Department.
"I think most people get their dose of track and field when they watch the Olympics and that's generally it, but it is the foundation for every sport we play. There's something for everyone and pretty much everyone can do something."
The 135,000 square-foot facility — part of Ocean Breeze park — has the region's only indoor hydraulic-lift tracks, areas for long jump and shot put and a gym with cardio machines on the ground floor.
The center will provide practice space for local schools and teams and already has 72 competitions scheduled between December and March, including several that are open to the public as well as large meets like the Bishop Loughlin Games and the Hershey Youth Indoor Championship, said Lauren Primerano, administrator of the facility.
"We have people from all over the country applying for events," Primerano said.
The track, with a surface built by Mondo in Italy, joins Annapolis, Maryland and Penn State University as the only venues in the country with hydraulic lifts, Jennifer Sage, of the project's architect Sage and Coombe, previously told DNAinfo.
The eight-lane track converts to six-lanes when raised by up to 4 1/2 feet, which gives runners more traction and helps them maintain turn speed, Sage said.
"This is the sort of new thinking of how you should compete and run these races," Sage said. "It makes it a much more competitive sport."
Aside from the track, the facility features a giant 18-by-28-foot screen where organizers can put scores and a live feed of runners during competition. It has seating for 25,000 spectators.
The facility also has several green features, including large windows for natural lighting that can open to let the breeze in. Its operators are seeking LEED certification.
The project started construction in 2010 but hit several delays along the way, including a setback when Hurricane Sandy ruined construction equipment after the storm-surge flooded underneath the building.
Because of the storm, the designers made several improvements to the facility — including raising the generator, transformer and control rooms — and increased the final cost of the project by $40 million.
The facility was finally able to have a soft opening on Nov. 2 to get the staff ready for the Thursday's formal debut. It's already had nearly 700 people sign up for memberships to work out inside, Long said.
"Essentially, it's just been word of mouth and people seeing activity here," Long said.
The center is one of three Parks Department recreational facilities in the borough and a membership — which ranges from $25 to $100 per year — lets members work out at any of the 36 across the city, Parks said.