BREWER, Maine — When Valaree Foss, president of the Maine Association of USA Track and Field, visited Cony High School in Augusta late last month, she knew that Saturday’s youth track and field state championships would have to be held at a different site.
That site has turned out to be the new track and field facility at Brewer Community School on Parkway South, the site of the old Pendleton Street School and the former track and field facility.
“The Cony track facility is under construction,” Foss said Monday of the longtime venue for this annual event. “There’s no grandstand, no concessions, no [portable restrooms], no bathrooms.
“They’re redoing the whole entrance to the track.”
Exposed rebar and other safety issues pushed Foss on July 26 to ask longtime championship meet director Ron Kelly of Scarborough to seek another facility to accommodate the approximately 900 athletes in four age groups: mites (8 and under), bantams (9-10), midgets (11-12) and youth (13-14). Some 15-year-olds also may compete as youths as long as they don’t start high school until the fall.
Family and other spectators could add about 1,000 more to the crowd.
“I threw out my feelers,” said Kelly, who also is co-chair of the USATF Maine youth committee.
“He called me up Friday and said, ‘You’re our backup,’” said Dave Jeffrey, the site coordinator who will handle the timing for the meet, as he has done since 1997.
Kelly checked first with Windham, which had hosted the event before. Brewer, which has never hosted the event in its more than 50 years, was on standby, “just in case,” according to Jeffrey.
“[Kelly] called me back 15 minutes later and said Windham can’t do it,” said Jeffrey, who had to contact officials in Brewer to get the OK.
“Monday afternoon [July 30] we had confirmation it was a go at Brewer,” said Kelly.
The meet will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and run until 5 p.m. or so, according to Kelly. That will be dependent on the weather.
Weather was an issue the last time the state meet was held in the north, in Hampden more than 20 years ago, according to Kelly.
“We had thunderstorms and rain delays,” said Kelly. “We had to shine car lights for the last event, the 8 and 9[-year-old] high jump. We finished at 11 p.m.”
The forecast Saturday is for possible thunderstorms, and if the meet has to be postponed it will be held Sunday.
Admission for spectators is $2 per person, and children get in free.
On-site parking will be tight. There are about 300 parking spots at Brewer Community School, so alternate parking areas will be used for the overflow. Brewer High School, with about 350-400 spots, on Parkway South is definite and a third site is in the works.
Athletes, officials, coaches and buses will use a dropoff area at the school, then proceed to one of the alternate parking sites. Shuttle buses are scheduled to travel to those sites every 15 minutes starting at 8 a.m.
On-street parking will be banned on the surrounding streets, and organizers expect that the Brewer Police Department will strictly enforce the ban.
The facility has enough competition stations to accommodate the athletes, but the site itself may become a little cramped, with each team needing space to gather as well as having room for spectators. Small grandstands are included at some of the field event areas in addition to the large grandstand at the track.
“On the down side, everybody is right on top of each other,” said Jeffrey. “On the good side, you’re right in the middle of everything.”
“This will be a big test for us,” said Jeffrey. “We’re going to find out real quick if we can do this.”
Jeffrey isn’t worried.
“We’ve held 11 meets here already,” he said.
But this will be the biggest one.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Jeffrey. “We wanted to host big meets; well, here you go.”