City leaders and school representatives are working to secure funding and solidify support that would bring a NCAA-level certified track and field to Pratt.

In 2016, Pratt Community College (PCC) received a million-dollar anonymous challenge grant along with being awarded a $300,000 federal grant to build a brand-new track and field east of Green Sports Complex. This 2018 calendar year marks an important deadline to secure the funding necessary to start the process.

Dr. Michael Calvert, president of Pratt Community College, said the cost for the project is currently at $3.5 million, which would cover the creation of an eight-lane, lit track with an artificial surface field on the inside that has multi-purpose turf. At this point in time, there is about $2 million in pledged grant dollars.

“It would be an NCAA-level certified track,” Calvert said. “So, all high school events, all college events could be run on that with the artificial surface field on the inside—that’s multi-purpose turf that you can use to do about anything. We anticipate that it will be the home of Pratt Community College Soccer Program because we don’t have football, but it doesn’t mean you couldn’t play American football on it, should there be a need.”

Though PCC has taken on the role of fundraising and grant-writing for the project, the track and field would not be owned by the college but rather, would be located on city property where it would be accessible to everyone.

With the ability to serve Pratt Community College, Pratt USD 382 and Skyline USD 438, Calvert said the track and field would have the added benefit of being on the low-maintenance side of things since the track-surface and turf would only need to be replaced once every 10 to 12 years.

Calvert said other maintenance would be minimal, making the project cost-efficient.

The only obstacle in the way is the need to meet the deadline looming at the end of this year.

“We’ve requested and received different levels of support from individuals and also the different entities—the school districts, the city and the county,” Calvert said. “We have the ability to apply for an extension—don’t know that we’re going to, and there’s no guarantee that if you apply you’re going to get it—so, we’re trying to work within this calendar year. We’re excited about it, we’re committed to the project and we see a lot of value.”

After analyzing economic data on the revenue generated by Green Sports Complex, Calvert said this track and field, like the Green Sports Complex, has major potential to bring even more revenue and prestige to the community.

“At the Green Sports Complex, the baseball and softball fields produce a lot of revenue for the city, directly to the city and also indirectly to the hotels, the restaurants, the shopping that goes on in town,” Calvert said. “The sales tax generated--our tourism board receives revenue from that, and they give dollars out to other events and things like that that go on in Pratt, so we see it as augmenting what is already going on at Green Sports Complex.”

While another $300,000 grant is currently in the works and Calvert said he is very optimistic about it, he said he would be more comfortable beginning construction on the track and field after more funds have been raised.

“This is a community collaborative project,” Calvert said. “PCC has taken it on because I see a need for a track in this community. We don’t have one—we share with USD 382, and they have been gracious to let us do that but they, nor us, can’t host events of any size.”

With upgraded facilities, Calvert said that college recruitment could see an overall boost and the community could see increased revenue.

“We’re over halfway there,” Calvert said. “We like where we’re going but we’d like to get there faster.”

Support from USD 382 and USD 438 has been slow in coming as both school districts juggle budget and benefit issues. Pratt City commissioners went on record that they would not issue any bonds to help finance the project, however they are considering other options of support.