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USA Track And Field Championships Kick Off At Capitol

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Taking the cement shot put circle out of the stadium setting and onto the grounds of the State Capitol has never been done before in a national championship.

Officials are hoping this new intimate venue not only helps the athletes break records, but draws record crowds, too.

“I’ve never seen anything like this.  It is amazing,” said national shot put athlete Kearsten Peoples. “The fact that you can look out and see the city, turn around and see the capitol behind you, it’s just awesome.”

Crews began building the 14 by 13 foot, 20,000-pound concrete slab a few days ago – a necessity for the athletes because of the Capitol lawn’s uphill slope.

“It was in in about three days. It will come out tomorrow. We created a venue overnight and it will be gone tomorrow,” said Mike Sophia, director of the Sacramento Sports Commission.

And because of Northern California’s drought, crews at the Capitol stopped watering the lawn, making for perfect shot put conditions.  Then they had to truck in 10,000 pounds of sand.

Although the venue may look small to spectators, officials say that, unless you’re Zeus, the athletes won’t be overthrowing the wall or hitting any fans.

“Over here is the most dangerous – and this is where all the media will be standing so you have to stay aware.  But the likelihood of an errant ball over here is very, very rare,” said tournament director John Mansoor.

The qualifying rounds started Wednesday morning with 40 athletes, which will be cut down to 12 men and 12 women. They will then compete in the finals Wednesday afternoon.

The other track and field events will be held over the next couple of days at Sacramento State University’s newly-remodeled Hornet Stadium.

City officials say the event is kicking over $5 million back into the local economy.

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