Deer tracks and patches of asphalt are easy to spot at Eastern Oregon University’s outdoor track and field facility.

The asphalt is where the track’s rubberized surface has worn away, revealing the track’s base. The exposed asphalt combined with a rubberized surface worn very thin means the cushioning effect the track once provided is almost eliminated.

“It is just too hard,” said EOU men’s and women’s track coach Ben Welch.

The track is so hard that meets have not been conducted on it since 2012. Eastern has instead held its home meets at Hermiston High School, which has a new track.

The odds are good though that EOU will soon again be hosting meets on its campus. The university is now raising money for a new synthetic track. Work on installing the new track could begin later this year once the funding goal is reached, said Tim Seydel, Eastern’s vice president for university of advancement.

“It would be a huge addition not only for the university but also the community,” Seydel said.

The entire track, installed around 1980, will be replaced, said John Garlitz, EOU’s director of facilities. This will include the track’s base rock and asphalt. Garlitz said that installing a new base will pay off in the future.

“It will help long-term stability and durability,” he said.

The process of removing the old track and replacing it will take between two and three months.

“We have to do it in the summer when it is dry,” Garlitz said.

The track will cost $1.1 million and will be paid for with privately raised funds and renewable bonds issued to EOU, Seydel said.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer