Dornblaser Field is in line for a facelift. Work on the University of Montana's track and field facility could begin by the end of May, after high school divisional track meets are completed there.

UM hosts its second and final outdoor meet of the season, the Tom Gage Classic, at Dornblaser on Friday.

Athletic director Wayne Hogan said details of the $450,000 renovation have almost been worked out with an anonymous group of donors.

Besides resurfacing the 10-lane track, the project will entail construction of bleachers akin to those at the adjacent South Campus soccer field; relocating some field-event venues from the infield to an area southwest of the track, as well as landscaping and fencing.

Hogan said UM is working with the Mountain West Track Club, headed by Mark and Anne Timmons, on the project. Mountain West has a use agreement with UM for Dornblaser.

"I think there's enough interest in the community, and I think our track program is a pretty viable part of our athletics program," Hogan said. "We have about 80 athletes on the men's and women's side and we need to maintain a nice facility for them."

He added that Dornblaser "is just such a visible area in the community. It can be a real attractive venue, aesthetically."

Seating capacity will approach 1,000 in the main grandstands and other portable bleachers close to field event areas. That's probably not enough to host a state high school meet, Hogan agreed, but ample for the Big Sky Conference championships, which are set to return to Missoula in 2003. UM could host next year's conference meet as well, if selected host Montana State deems it won't be finished with a renovation project of its own. Those details will be hammered out at the Big Sky spring meetings May 20-21 in Bozeman.

The renovation plan "excites us," said UM coach Tom Raunig. "We want to look for every advantage we can for recruiting, and for motivating our athletes, and all that excitement that comes with a project like this will definitely help."

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