Elon receives gifts to build new track and field

Gifts from Charlotte, N.C., businessman and philanthropist Irwin Belk and Burlington residents Jerry and Jeanne Robertson will provide funds for a new eight-lane all-weather track and field at Elon University. The facility will be located adjacent to the new Rhodes Stadium.

The $500,000 gift from Belk is the latest in a series of gifts he and his wife, Carol Grotnes Belk, have made to Elon. This fall, they provided funds for the creation of a bronze sculpture depicting the Phoenix, Elon’s athletics mascot. In 1999 the new library was named in honor of Mrs. Belk, after the couple made a major gift to the Campaign for the Elon Vision.

The Irwin Belk Track will become the sixth major facility in Elon’s impressive north athletics complex, joining Rhodes Stadium, Walter C. Latham Baseball Park, Rudd Soccer Field, Hunt Field and Koury Field House.

The gift from the Robertsons will fund facilities for field events, including pole vault, long jump, high jump, shot put, discuss, hammer throw and javelin. The infield of the track will include a soccer practice field.

Initial design work for the project is being done by Paige Design Group of Bahama, N.C., one of the nation’s premier designers of track and field facilities. Among Paige’s 140 projects are track complexes at Stanford University, Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and Wake Forest University. A construction timeline has not yet been established, and additional fundraising is planned for the project.

Irwin Belk has had a lifelong interest in athletics, and has attended all the Games of the Olympiad since 1960. He served on the United States Olympic Committee for more than 30 years. His primary philanthropy interest has been in support of higher education, and he has funded numerous facilities and scholarships at colleges and universities in the region. The track at Elon will be the 14th Belk track in the Carolinas.

The Robertsons are long-time supporters of Elon University and have been active in the Elon Athletics Foundation. Jeanne Robertson, a nationally renowned humorist, has promoted the university in appearances across the country. Their son, W. Bailey Bowline IV (Beaver), is a 1989 Elon graduate.