The outdoor track and field facility was filled with celebratory emotions and several members who played key roles in the entire process Friday evening, as the grand opening was held in effort to unveil the new facility to the public.
The outdoor facility has been a long awaited for project and was only made possibly by the help of many members within the University of Kentucky athletic department and its supporters.
"This has been a long time coming for a lot of people," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said.
Barnhart got the night started by speaking in front of many track and field boosters, former coaches and athletes, members of the UK athletic department and special guest and Lexington native, Tyson Gay.
Perhaps the biggest influence in the entire plan was former track and field coach Don Weber. Weber coached the Wildcat track program for more than three decades and was a devoted member of the athletic department.
"Don is a guy that has been absolutely critical in getting this thing going and he was so patient," Barnhart said. "He has been an unbelievable guy in our department for 30 years and he waited his turn. He didn't have the luxury of this facility to recruit but he did have a vision for what he wanted it to be and we owe him a great deal of gratitude for that."
What Coach Weber did was pretty amazing and it takes a special person to build a program up and pass it on to someone else. Barnhart described Weber as an unbelievable person with great humility.
Weber did joke with the attendees saying that after coaching 34 years, had he known the new track would open up this year he may have hung around for a 35th season. Weber did speak very highly of the two people he left the program to and is confident they will take it to the next level.
"The most significant thing that ever happened in UK athletics, happened in 2002 when (then-UK president) Dr. (Lee) Todd hired Mitch Barnhart as the Athletic Director," Weber said. "Mitch is building quality, competitive teams in every sport we have here. A lot of people are very grateful for what he has brought us."
First-year head coach Edrick Floreal is taking over for Weber and the two have a personal relationship with each other. They have associated with each other in the past and Weber knows just what kind of work Floreal is capable of.
Weber assured the crowd that Floreal would take the program to new heights and has no doubt he will be a force for years to come.
"I know Coach Floreal and when I think of him, the one thing I know about Edrick, he is a worker," Weber said. "I described him to (UK administrator and head strength coach) Stephanie (Tracey-Simmons) and Mitch, he's a worker, but he's more than a worker, he's a force."
One of the greatest moments in UK track and field history came back in 1992, when the indoor track and field facility was built. Now that Kentucky has added the outdoor venue, Weber believes UK has the best infrastructures in all of college track and field.
With the new additions, Weber says Floreal and his staff will build the most competitive track team in the history of the University of Kentucky.
It then was Floreal's turn to take the microphone, just as it is now his turn to lead the track program.
He opened up thanking everyone for supporting the program and allowing this to happen, but he quickly shifted gears and gave everyone an example of the type of coach he will be. He will not settle for anything and always wants to keep improving.
"If you have gone this far, I figure you can go a little bit further," Floreal said. "My message is simple, if you guys have gone this far in supporting Don, I'm hoping you can go a little further...This is just the beginning, it's the warm-up. Now we've got to get to the actual workout."
Now that the baton has officially been passed, it's time to get the track program rolling again and soaring to greater heights.
As Floreal was wrapping up his message, he explained to the fans where the program currently stands. He assured them that he is not here to fail and he and his staff will work tirelessly in order to win. In the end, he gave the crowd a hint that trophies will start piling in.
"If you guys thought the job was done, we are just starting," Floreal said. "Don got the basement going, he got it insulated. Now we've got to get a first floor, we've got to get a second, we have to get a third and if we are lucky we might even get an attic and that's where you keep the trophies."