THE PENN RELAYS counter culture has a new vantage point to take in IFOs.
Throwers and throwing groupies who annually set up camp outside Franklin Field can revel in the revived hammer and discus circles that now sit on the old softball field. Identified flying objects have been whizzing above the terrain below the stadium for years but hammer and discus enthusiasts used to crowd into a standing-room-only semicircle to watch.
It was cozy but somewhat uncomfortable.
"They were jammed against the fence near the Schuylkill," said Toni Tenisci, coordinator of throws at the Relays. "Now they have carved out the hammer and discus circles where home plate used to be. We kept the dugouts for the competitors, especially during inclement weather.
"We have Olympic cages and bleachers that seat about 300.
"I've been here 27 years and I've always wanted a destination for the throwers that is comparable to what the runners have at Franklin Field. Now we have it."
Tenisci, a former thrower himself, is not just throwing smoke. He knows a high-class venue when he sees one.
The cage is 33 feet high, the standard used in all major international competitions, including the upcoming London Olympics in August. Surrounding the cage is synthetic grass so competitors can compete with dry, mud-free shoes.
The city skyline serves as a backdrop. A paradise for the throwing clan. Idyllic.
"It used to be a forgotten world," said Tenisci. "In the middle of nowhere. Uncomfortable. Now it's a destination.
"We are one-third of the Penn Relays program. Runners have Franklin Field. We have our destination."
The new hangout debuted in March but has its grand opening this week.
Heavy metal will be rocking.
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