After receiving a philanthropic donation of €3 million in 2018 to build and maintain a new UCD Athletics track, UCD has been keen to complete construction despite current Level 5 restrictions. ‘Protective’ work is being carried out on the site located near the Clonskeagh entrance in hopes of restrictions being lifted and the project completed by September

UCD Media Relations have confirmed that this ‘protective’ work is in line with legislation and there is a “clear schedule and end-date” provided no further disruptions arise that would impact the Autumn 2021 completion date. After the closure of the old track, UCD would have had to pay an estimated €1.6 million to replace the track, “subject to funding becoming available”, and soon afterwards ripped up a portion of the track to facilitate a car park for staff and students. The track was left to dilapidation and was a major loss to the Belfield campus and the UCD Athletics Club. 

Work began on the new eight-lane IAAF approved track in 2019 and has experienced extreme delays during the COVID-19 pandemic. With not even a three month run at the start of 2020, the project took a big hit before returning before the second lockdown for a short period. A generous €3 million donation from an undisclosed donor is expected to contribute towards the upkeep of the new track for 20 years with double-rubber foundations increasing its longevity avoiding the neglect seen previously. 

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The track’s opening is anticipated by all at UCD Athletics Club as they celebrate their 100th Anniversary of the club this year. The shutdown of the previous track after “certified safety concerns” greatly impacted the club and was the “missing jigsaw piece” of UCD Campus for the past decade. 

Although undoubtedly overdue, Dominic O’Keeffe, UCD’s director of student services and facilities, stresses the need for precision when building one of the few tracks in the country of this nature. A top-class facility will guarantee support for future growth and achievements of the Athletics club and the rest of the student body.

Medb McBrearty – Reporter