A push for velodrome upgrade
Pan Am Games organizers want to build permanent structure
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
The board of directors of the 2015 Pan Am Games is looking at upgrading its Hamilton velodrome to be a permanent, year-round facility.
At the moment, the velodrome is proposed as a temporary facility and would not be a four-season site.
"Toronto 2015, Sport Canada and the City of Hamilton are ‘stretching' for a more lasting legacy, " Ian Troop, CEO of the organizing committee for the $1.4-billion Games, said in a conference call Friday.
Troop said Games organizers and planners are discussing the idea of a year-round, legacy venue because, if built that way, it would be one of only two permanent velodromes in North America. The other is in Los Angeles.
"We are working with our partners with the hope of creating a permanent four-season legacy that will serve the community for years to come, " Troop said.
The Pan Am organizing committee has already budgeted $11.4 million for the track, but creating an international-calibre velodrome will cost more, said David Adames, the city's point person on the file.
It's still not clear how much an upgraded facility will cost over and above the existing budget, said Adames, but the city and Toronto 2015 officials will work together to come up with a strategy for breaching the funding gap.
The Canadian Cycling Association is also involved in the talks and has offered to cover some of the operational costs should the project move forward, he said.
Though the city has yet to pin down a site for the track, Adames said the options still on the table – as many as six – are all located within city limits.
"We're hoping that we'll have a permanent multi-use facility that will be available for community use, " said Adames, noting the importance of accommodating sports other than cycling, such as basketball, volleyball and badminton.
Nonetheless, the central focus is on creating a world-class training facility that Adames hopes could bring the national cycling team to Hamilton from Los Angeles, where it currently trains.
Troop, too, sees the need for a permanent track.
"There is no such facility in Canada. There is no such facility in the eastern United States, " he said.
Because the committee and its partners are still working on funding and facility specifications, Troop said he couldn't put a timeline on a decision.
"I would say we would like to get some things settled in April, " he said.
"I am not going to let timing get in the way of a good decision."
Whether the velodrome ends up being a temporary structure or a permanent facility, the International Cycling Union has already pledged that world championships and other elite cycling events would be staged in Hamilton if the indoor cycling track is built to international standards
The pledge was made by union president Pat McQuaid in a letter to city council last fall.
The cycling union is familiar with Hamilton after awarding the 2003 Road World Cycling Championships to the city in a rare move out of Europe. It was impressed with the way the worlds were staged and how Hamiltonians responded.