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New Hamilton Velodrome in Motion

by Chris Keam

April 4, 2009 (Hamilton, ON) – Andrew Iler, president of the National Cycling Centre (NCC), has high hopes for a new multi-million-dollar velodrome in Hamilton, Ont. following a recent vote (on Feb. 23 ) by city council to commit $60 million to a proposed stadium and velodrome in the city’s west harbour area. The plan is one part of Toronto’s bid to host the 2015 Pan Am Games throughout the Golden Horseshoe area. According to Iler, the 160-page feasibility report for the velodrome is a blueprint for a successful, permanent track-cycling facility and a natural progression from the city’s success with the 2003 World Road Cycling Championships.

Farrow Partnership Architects were the lead consultant in putting the Feasibility Report together, which did not include putting together a final design or blueprints. The city’s next steps will be consultation with business and the community regarding the side-by-side stadium and velodrome. Two South American cities, Bogota and Lima, are also currently in the running for the 2015 Games.

The long-term vision for the facility is modeled on such successful velodromes as the one at the British National Cycling Centre in Manchester, England and “T-town,” also known as the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, built by Rodale Press founder Bob Rodale in Trexlertown, Pa. Iler says community involvement and a cooperative approach are the keys to success.

“What we’ve been able to achieve with the NCC is an excellent relationship with the city of Hamilton, with recreation, tourism, and especially the school board. We ran a pilot project last year…an identification, recruitment program (IDRD). Over a 100 kids got a chance to ride a kilometre on a track cycling simulator with a big-screen display. Kids were lining up to try it out. Six or seven kids came out of the program, and this year raced their first season on the road. None of them had been riders before, yet we saw some good results, especially with them coming in with no prior experience. That’s the kind of integration with the community we want to build with the velodrome proposal, and we are already well on our way.”

Construction of the velodrome would take approximately a year and a half, according to Iler. Despite the hurdle of two competitors both hailing from South America, he’s confident in the future of the velodrome.

“We have a promising bid team. They have done a lot of work, and we’ll see how that goes. We want to go ahead regardless.”
The proposal is the result of funding left over from a 2010 Commonwealth Games bid. To further the legacy of the 2003 Hamilton Road World Championships, the money was directed to the NCC for a feasibility study regarding a velodrome suitable for international competition.

Iler is tight-lipped regarding costs for the velodrome, citing confidentiality and competitive concerns, with the bid decision not set to occur until April. The current city proposal budgets $11.4 million for the velodrome, with the city picking up 44% of the total ($5 million), but Iler wants a bigger, better and more expensive facility to get the final go-ahead. Estimates made by city staff range as high as $70 million, depending on the final plan and various options.

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