IMG Academy will host the Florida state track and field championship for the second straight year, the FHSAA announced Wednesday. IMG will host all four classifications May 5-6, after doing the same this past May.
“We are thrilled to be returning to IMG Academy for a second straight year,” FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing said in a statement posted to the FHSAA website. “Thanks to the state-of-the-art facility as well as the great hospitality shown to all participants this past May, we did not think twice about going back to Bradenton.”
Approximately 11,000 spectators attended the races and events during the two days in Bradenton, although the meet did have its fair share of hiccups.
With only one lane entering the parking lot outside IMG Academy Stadium from 53rd Avenue West, there were major traffic jams and people waiting in their cars to enter the venue for upward of an hour during the opening Friday of the meet. For the second and final day of the event, the FHSAA ceased charging for parking to alleviate congestion entering the campus.
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“Friday, I think everyone can agree we had those challenges,” FHSAA public relations specialist Kyle Niblett said at the time, “and I think everyone would agree that Saturday it was much improved.”
Part of the issue stemmed from near-record attendance. The Ascenders were told to expect about 4,000 spectators for Day 1 of the competition and wound up with nearly double that.
In the months since, IMG has taken steps to prevent similar issues from arising again in the future. The Ascenders have widened the path into IMG Stadium, expanding both the entrance and exit to two lanes. The Ascenders also plan to have more parking available, according to the FHSAA.
The format of the event will also remain the same as in 2016. Instead of each day being isolated to certain classifications, athletes from all four classifications will compete during both days with preliminaries and finals separated for certain events. Last season was the first time the FHSAA used such a format.