It was a bit strange when the NCAA announced that Pittsburg State’s indoor event center would host the 2016 and 2018 Division II National Indoor Track Championships. That’s because the indoor event center didn’t — and doesn’t yet — exist. But it will soon, as work has recently started on the 154,000-square foot, $17 million project, although the formal groundbreaking ceremony has yet to take place. “We will have a formal groundbreaking ceremony in late February or early March to make it officials, but we didn’t want to wait a day longer than necessary to get to work on this great addition to the campus and the community,” said Pittsburg State President Steve Scott. Technically, the first work on the project took place in December, as crews began blocking off a portion of the parking lot to the east of the Weede Physical Education Building, which is where the indoor event center will be built. At this point, the work is largely about preparing the dirt for construction over the spring and summer. The facility will be adjacent to the Weede and will be connected by a covered walkway. Because of how close it is, the event center is considered part of one larger project that covers the renovation of the Weede. The total cost for the projects is $17 million and has already included new seating and mezzanine work at John Lance Arena, and will include new restrooms, an expanded concourse and new locker rooms at that facility, as well. But the centerpiece is the more than 154,000 square foot event center. The facility will include a 100-yard turf fied, an 11,000 square-foot strength/training area, a 300-meter track, seating for up to 1,500, locker rooms for men’s and women’s track and football, offices, meeting rooms, and even a large video screen. PSU officials said Pittsburg State would be one of “only a handful” of Division II schools to have a 300-meter indoor track. Interestingly, no state funds will be used for the construction of the facility, but there will be plenty of local funds. Of the $17 million total cost, the City of Pittsburg has pledged $5 million, Pittsburg State students passed a fee increase that adds $3 million, and Crawford County is contributing a portion of the transient guest tax. The rest of the money has been raised through private donors. “Citizens of Pittsburg are always interested in developments at Pittsburg State,” said Pittsburg Mayor Michael Gray. “It’s been fascinating to watch the construction of the Center for the Arts this past year. But the community has an even greater reason to be interested in the indoor events center because we have invested in it. This is going to have a positive impact on the entire community.” The construction time on the indoor event center — lower case, as that’s just a working title until the groundbreaking — is roughly a year, meaning the building would be opened in roughly the spring of 2015. Jim Johnson, Intercollegiate Athletics director, said the center is a key piece of the facilities puzzle that strengthens the university and the community. “This is an important step in our ongoing effort to provide an infrastructure that benefits student athletes, the university and the wider community,” Johnson said. The Morning Sun will have more on this story later in the week.