Drake Stadium, or the Blue Oval as it is known, holds a great deal of history. From over 100 years of Drake Relays (previously known as Haskins Field) with various world records set, athletes like Wilma Rudolph, Frank Shorter, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens, and more gracing the track with their exceptional skills, and the new surface being laid last year, it is a perfect place for championship races.
The USATF Outdoor Championships were held at Drake Stadium in 2010 and 2013, making it 5 years since it was last held at the Blue Oval. They have not announced where it will be held this year, but we think it's about time it came back to good ole Des Moines! We've heard rumors that Des Moines is certainly in the mix for this year's meet...
So why do we think it's one of the best tracks in the country to hold USA's at? Let's break it down...
- Drake Stadium has no trouble selling out. With just over 14,500 seats, the Drake Relays and Iowa State High School T&F Championships are sell-outs even in some of the worst Midwest weather.
- It evens out the playing field. Very few professional athletes train in the Midwest... most train in places like Oregon, Washington, and Colorado where they adapt to the weather patterns and altitudes, making a favorable environment for them. Coming to Iowa means they all get to experience the unpredictable Midwest weather and low altitude.
- The track surface is Championship ready. Drake University has not opened their track to the public for quite a few years now, helping it stay fresh. They replaced the Jim Duncan Track surface in 2016 with the same material used at the Beijing and London Olympics, surely making it Championship quality.
- Low crime rates make it a safe place for famous athletes. Despite being a growing city, Des Moines holds onto is Midwestern charm and has friendly pedestrians and relatively low crime rates. Iowa generally falls under the national average for violent crimes, though Des Moines does tend to be above that as a larger city. The athletes can feel safe doing their warm ups, cool downs, and training runs in town without having to look over their shoulders.
- Mike Jay is already here! Though he is stationed in Iowa City, Des Moines is just an hour and half drive for the famous track and field announcer. Since he's already in Iowa, you might as well save him the trip and bring the Championships here!
- It's in the middle of the country (sort of). Being in the Midwest, it is a fairly central location for athletes and fans to travel to. Rather than make the northeastern athletes like Boston Athletics Association travel all the way to the Pacific Northwest, let all of them migrate right in the middle! It is just under 1800 miles from Beaverton, OR (Nike headquarters), and 1300 from Boston. Plus, Des Moines has a low-key airport that is very easy to get in and out of.
Do you agree with us? Vote in our poll below!