Following a dedication ceremony on Saturday, the Jimmy Carnes Track at the Alachua County Sport and Events Center will begin operations next week by hosting the 10th Annual Jimmy Carnes Indoor Track and Field Meet.
Sports events will continue through 2023 at the Celebration Pointe complex, and speakers said the entire year has already been booked. A building dedication will happen before summer as some work continues on the complex.
Alachua County helped finance the 120,000-square-foot complex with $30 million. Viking Inc., who owns Celebration Pointe, contributed $5.7 million, and the state pitched in $2.3 million.
The county estimates the facility will bring in $77 million in annual revenue with 13 basketball courts, 26 volleyball courts and the NCAA-sized track.
The dream of an indoor track began decades ago and UF coaches and athletes, along with local and state officials, honored Jimmy Carnes’ legacy and contributions to the sport on Saturday.
Carnes, who died in 2011, headed UF’s track and field teams from 1964 to 1976. His teams earned 15 top-three finishes in the SEC Indoor and Outdoor Championships with a dual meet record of 93-3. He also helped found the Florida Track Club and the Athletic Attic.
Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton recognized Carnes for his work. He was inducted to both the Florida and Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Carnes also recruited UF’s first Black scholarship athlete, Ron Coleman, in 1968.
Coleman called Carnes a great coach, philanthropist and humanitarian. Despite threats during the height of the civil rights movement, Coleman said Carnes pushed to grant him a scholarship and quickly brought on another Black athlete.
“To Jimmy Carnes, Ron Coleman represented at least five to 10 points on every dual track meet out there,” Coleman said. “That’s what he way about—points.”
Mike Holloway, the current track and field coach for UF, said Carnes brought people together in his lifetime. And now, he said the track named in his honor will continue bringing people from around the country together to compete.
Nanette Carnes called it a special night because Carnes longed for a facility like the new indoor track.
“[The indoor track] will affect every single person who lives in this county—one way or another,” Nanette Carnes said.
To learn more about Carnes, read his biography from UF Athletics. You can also find our previous coverage of the Alachua County Sports Complex.
Jimmy Carnes was my coach at Furman. He was a wonderful man and had a great impact on my life I would love to talk with Nanette, his wife.