Glasgow & West Scotland

Hampden athletics venue for Glasgow 2014 unveiled

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Media captionThe BBC's Chris McLaughlin reports from inside Hampden Park

The Commonwealth Games athletics venue at Hampden Park has been officially unveiled.

In order to accommodate the running track and athletics field for Glasgow 2014, the surface was raised by 1.9m (6ft 3in) on a bed of metal stilts.

London 2012 gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill was given a tour of the new facilities along with Scottish hurdler Eilidh Child.

The duo were then given a look at the athletes village in Glasgow's East End

The diggers moved in to Hampden three months ago as work started to transform it from a football ground to a world class athletics stadium.

It is a unique project which Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg has described as "innovative" and "pioneering".

BBC Scotland correspondent Jane Lewis said it had taken three months to get to this stage and the total cost of transforming the national football stadium into an athletics venue was £14m.

She said: "The only thing missing at the moment is the running track but that will be put down in due course."

It will be laid when the weather improves.

Eight rows of seats have been lost because of raising the surface and the capacity of Hampden will be reduced to 44,000 for the games.

However, the new track will be closer to the watching crowds and organisers hope this will lead to a better experience for the spectators.

Ian McKenzie from Glasgow 2014 was in charge of the transformation.

He told BBC Scotland; "The crowd are going to be close to the action and that's going to be good from a spectating point of view and I'm sure it will make the athletes perform really well also."

Mr McKenzie explained that the project involved taking away the turf off the football pitch. A network of columns resting on base plates was then laid out from east to west across the pitch area, he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jessica Ennis and Eilidh Childs helped unveil the new track at Hampden
Image caption More than 1,000 athletes will compete in track and field events in the stadium during Glasgow 2014
Image caption Hampden will host the closing ceremony on 3 August

A structural deck was placed on the columns which supports 11 tonnes of stone and on top of that was placed the asphalt which gives a fine surface.

The specialist running track will be laid on the asphalt in the next month or so.

The Glasgow 2014 games run from 23 July to 3 August.

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, who will not be competing because she is due to give birth in July, is an ambassador for the games.

She told BBC Scotland: "It's incredible. Having the stand so close to the track, you will really feel the atmosphere and the crowd getting behind you. So it is going to be exciting for the athletes."

Scottish athlete Eilidh Child said: "I can't wait to step on the track and race here it is going to be incredible.

"Having the crowd right there, almost on top of you, really builds the atmosphere."

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