Apalachee Park improvements unveiled ahead of cross country season

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Cross country season begins in just three days and Leon County is unveiling improvements at Apalachee Regional Park, a leading venue that hosts a series of running events.

Officials say the improvements to the park shine a spotlight on Leon County as a sports tourism destination.

These improvements include a new multi-purpose building, which was built in April but officially opened Monday ahead of the 2021 cross country season.

Leon County expects this season to bring in more than 35,000 visitors and $10 million in direct spending.

“Is this heaven?” Bob Braman, Florida State’s track and field coach, asked at the ribbon-cutting event. “No, it’s Tallahassee. That’s pretty close for cross country.”

Braman says Apalachee Park is one of the nation’s top cross country courses.

“I’m always so proud when coaches from other teams come here who’ve never been here before,” Braman said. “And they come up and say, ‘This is the best course I’ve ever been on in my life.’”

Tallahassee will be hosting the NCAA National Championships at Apalachee Park in November.

“Many residents are not even aware that there is a cross country course at Apalachee Regional Park,” Kerri Post, director of Leon County Tourism, said. “Much less than it is one of the top, if not the top, cross country courses in the nation.”

Tuesday night, the county commission will discuss submitting an application to compete to host the World Championships.

“It’s great to welcome the country here, and hopefully in 2026 we’ll be welcoming the world,” Amanda Heidecker, director of Parks and Recreation, said. “Well let me say that we will be welcoming the world here in 2026.”

Aside from the new building, improvements to the park include a stage and permanent finish line structure, as well as wildlife viewing areas and native species landscaping.

“These improvements that we celebrate today will increase Leon County’s visibility, viability and visitation for cross country events on a global scale,” Post said. “While also providing a great facility that can that community can enjoy throughout the year.”

Leon County estimates that Apalachee Park will have had more than $40 million of economic impact since it began hosting events in 2009 through the end of this year’s cross country season.

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