Selma preparing to host state track and field championshipsPublished 9:08pm Monday, April 1, 2013
In one month thousands of athletes will descend upon Selma to commence the chase for a state championship.
For the second-straight year, Selma Memorial Stadium will host the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 1A-3A state track and field championships.
But between now and the beginning of the two-day championship meet on May 3-4, the city has a few opportunities to get ready for the influx of thousands of athletes and fans.
“We do have the track meets with Morgan coming next Monday, they have a big one with 25 or so schools. Then the next week, we have a big one with Dallas County High School. They’ve got a big one, and that helps us prepare for the really big one,” said Selma Parks and Recreation director Elton Reece. “Then we have a state AISA followed by the state AHSAA. Those other track meets help us prepare for the really big ones.”
With Morgan hosting a track meet at Memorial Stadium on April 8 followed by the Alabama Independent School Association state track meet on April 17, and other meets in between, Reece said keeping the facilities up and ready for events is a year-round process.
And as last season’s state meet brought in an estimated 1,700 athletes and a total of 6,000 spectators, Reece said the main focus has been finding ways to improve upon last year’s event.
“We actually participated in a meeting with the Alabama High School Athletic Association two weeks ago, which was our second such meeting, just to go over anything we could do to improve on last year, like rearranging the stadium, where people are going and where certain facilities are going to be,” Reece said. “We’re all planning for that, and also we met with Selma High School and Concordia College about the internal workings of the state track meet — the parking lots and pay for parking, concession stands, and hospitality rooms. A lot of planning with a lot of people goes into this.”
Reece said it’s especially important that local restaurants and motels be brought up to speed about the state meet, and steps are already being taken to make sure everyone’s on the same page when it’s time to host the thousands of visitors.
“We’re preparing a web site as we speak to go on the city web page about telling the general public what their responsibilities are, and what the responsibilities of the coaches, the athletes and the schools, and what the responsibilities of the city of Selma are,” Reece said. “There are just a lot of little things that we have to make sure we don’t leave anything out because those little things can turn into big things. It’s a lot of little details that you have to do in order to get ready, and then contacting the motels about the track meet coming, also all the food vendors because that’s where some of the problems came from last year — we actually had some of them run out of food.”
Reece said there’s no doubt the facilities will be ready to host this year’s state championship meet, but the biggest challenge will be to accommodate the thousands who will make their way to Selma.
“The big thing is the facilities will be okay because the facilities are there, but the main thing is making sure the track meet runs smooth and dealing with the influx of the number of people that come in and out of the stadium,” Reece said. “It’s one of those things where you just have to handle the crowds because people come with different attitudes, and sometimes it’s not the best attitudes in the world, but we’re going to try our best to please everybody. And a big thing is to inform the motels, and the eating places that the meet is here, that people are going to be calling, and to be fair and consistent and be good business people.”