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Drake Stadium to host special track event this month

AP Photo Jenny Simpson waves to fans after winning the women's special 1500-meter run at the Drake Relays on Friday in Des Moines.

DES MOINES — The Blue Oval at Drake University will get used this summer after all.

Blake Boldon announced that a special one-of-a-kind professional track and field competition will take place on August 29 from the home of the Drake Relays.

The Blue Oval Showcase presented by Mediacom will bring together some of the world’s top professional talents minus fans inside Drake Stadium as a safety precaution against the coronavirus.

“For months, our staff has been in constant communication and collaboration with local leadership and USA Track & Field to create an event that returns the sport of track and field to competition safely,” said Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays Monday during a special press conference. “With the health and well-being of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, and our community of paramount concern, we’re excited to be the first significant professional track & field competition to be staged on American soil since March.”

Safety measures for the event include the absence of ticketed fans from Drake Stadium. Only athletes and officials will be allowed on the competition surface and a limited number of event staff and credentialed athlete support staff will be allowed in the stadium seating area.

Seating in the first four rows surrounding the Blue Oval will not be permitted and the total number of individuals inside Drake Stadium will not exceed 10 percent of the venue’s reduced capacity.

Physical distancing guidelines for all competitors, officials and support staff will be in place as well as mandatory mask usage where appropriate. Through coordination with campus, local, and state officials, the Blue Oval Showcase will also feature protocols for transportation, host hotels, meals, competition areas and a pre-arrival protocol education required for all athletes, officials and support personnel traveling to Des Moines.

“We are excited to partner with the Drake Relays on this entirely new and unique event,” Mediacom SVP of Field Operations Ed Pardini said. “Mediacom is always on the cutting edge of what’s next and this innovative showcase is exactly that.”

The schedule of events for the Blue Oval Showcase includes sprints, hurdles, field events, and the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships. The competitions exclusively occurring inside Drake Stadium are ones deemed low risk by USA Track & Field. The USATF 1 Mile Road Championships, previously scheduled as part of the Grand Blue Mile races in April, will be limited to approximately 10 male and 10 female participants and will finish on the Blue Oval.

Testing of the athletes will also be conducted upon apprival to Iowa.

“While we were disappointed to postpone the 111th Drake Relays presented by Xtream, it was certainly the right decision given the thousands of competitors and spectators that would be on our campus and community during our annual week-long celebration,” Boldon said. “But we are excited and confident, with the encouragement of our local partners, that we can host an event such as the Blue Oval Showcase with the safety protocols we have in place.”

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