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Athletics, COJ & Visit Jax Track & Field Partnership

The University of North Florida Athletics Department held a joint press conference with the City of Jacksonville and Visit Jacksonville in celebration of the completed resurfacing of the Visit Jacksonville Track at Hodges Stadium as well as the extension of a partnership for the group centered around attracting and hosting national-level track and field events.

The Duval County Tourist Development Council (TDC) committed $950,000 for the resurfacing of the competition and practice tracks at the facility, along with the installation of fiber at Hodges Stadium for improved broadcasting capabilities. The resurfacing for the practice track located adjacent to Hodges Stadium and the fiber installation are both parts of a future construction phase set to begin in August 2021. In recognition of the TDC's contribution, the track will now we recognized as the Visit Jax Track at Hodges Stadium.

With the resurfacing of the Visit Jax Track completed, Hodges Stadium continues as a first-choice venue for hosting a variety of national and international track competitions. North Florida Athletics has the potential of hosting up to nine high level track and field events between April and July of this year, including the already secured NCAA East Preliminary on May 27-29.

Hodges Stadium, which has hosted the NCAA East Prelim five times prior to this year (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019), has served as host for the ASUN Conference Outdoor Track Championships since 2009. In addition, the stadium has served as the host site to Florida's high school state track & field championships multiple times along with the USATF Masters Championships and USATF Junior Olympics in the past decade.

These major track & field events have a significant economic impact for the City of Jacksonville:

  • Each time North Florida has previously hosted the NCAA Track & Field East Preliminary, the event has produced more than 11,000 room nights for area hotels and more than $8 million in economic impact
  • The US Junior Olympics produced more than 20,000 room nights along with more than $16 million in economic impact
  • Over the past 10 years of hosting internal and external track events, North Florida has created an estimated 125,000 room nights and nearly $100 million in economic impact

In addition to a resurfaced practice track and improved fiber, Phase II of the construction project includes replacing the grass infield of the practice track with an artificial field. This upgrade will not only be beneficial for Osprey Athletics and general student life experiences but also solidify UNF as the destination location for major track events on the East Coast. 

"This is an exciting day and a great example of how our relationship with the City of Jacksonville and Visit Jacksonville has grown since we first partnered together to help win the bid for our first NCAA Track & Field East Prelim back in 2012. That event was a huge success and the relationship has grown from there. We really appreciate and value this partnership and that led us to the agreement we recently executed and helped us reach this point today. Their financial investment provided us with the resources to restore and improve our track facility to become one of the finest in the country. This truly makes Hodges Stadium and Visit Jax Track a destination location for premier track and field events. This partnership creates an environment where we can assist the city and their tourism goals by increasing room nights and making an economic impact moving forward. We are excited about the direction we are going and we are really excited about this relationship." LEE MOON, North Florida Director of Athletics

"Why would you want to come to Jacksonville? Well there are lots of reasons why you'd want to come to Jacksonville, and now one of them is because we have the best track facility in the country." DR. DAVID SZYMANSKI, University of North Florida President

"This is a great to have the opportunity to celebrate the completion of the construction of Visit Jax Track. Sports Tourism is a priority of the Mayor and our City Council and this investment was a valuable element to the partnership between the City of Jacksonville, Visit Jacksonville and the University of North Florida. The completion of this project puts Jacksonville on the national map as one of the best track and field destinations. The TDC is looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership with UNF, Visit Jacksonville and the sports tourism industry. This is a great day for Jacksonville." SAM NEWBY, TDC Vice Chair and Council Vice President

"It is an honor for me to stand on this track today and reintroduce it to this community. What an incredible asset this is. We present this new track to you and we believe it is the best track in the country. Visit Jacksonville knows the value of keeping it the best track in the country so we want to continue this partnership in the coming years. Every time there is a meet in this stadium, our community is a winner because hotels and restaurants are filled up. Athletes and their families come and enjoy our great city and make return visits or even become residents because of their experiences. The opportunity to partner with UNF and the TDC is one that we truly value."MICHAEL CORRIGAN, Visit Jacksonville President and CEO