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Erie Community College's track team took the first official lap around the new 400-meter, all-weather track at the ECC South Campus during a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning.

The all-purpose track -- with room for a soccer and football field at its center -- will be the site of the 1999 National Junior College Athletic Association outdoor track championships.

"Only a few schools have steeplechase tracks -- we needed one to get the national outdoor track championships," said Ralph J. Galanti Jr., ECC director of athletics. The track is a gift from the county.

"The Buffalo Bills needed to expand their (Rich Stadium) parking lot because they lost some space when they built the Wilson Field House," Galanti said.

"The land they needed was located where our old cinder track and parts of our athletic field were. The county leased them the land and gave us the all-weather, state-of-the-art track we needed."

The track, located on the Abbott Road side of the campus across from Rich Stadium, was completed over the summer and cost $250,000 to $275,000, Galanti said.

The new facility will be open to the community for track events.

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