An El Grupo rider check out the Hermosillo velodrome, which is currently the closest track to Tucson.

Editor’s note: This story incorrectly stated Jay Zuckerman provided operating funds for the project. In reality it was the Zuckerman Family Foundation.

With help from Pima County officials, a small group of key figures in the cycling community is moving forward with plans to build a velodrome in Tucson.

Jamie Carney, a professional track racer who is working the group, said the velodrome is an important piece of making Tucson a cycling destination.

“The velodrome is the only missing component to make us the best place you can be in the United States for cycling,” Carney said.

The group, which is headed by Richard DeBernardis — the president of Perimeter Bicycling Association of America, has identified four potential locations, secured $2 million in funding for operating the track once it is built and is working with the Pima County bond committee to include construction funding in the county’s next bond election.

DeBernardis said they are looking for $5 million to build the track, which they are calling the Arizona Bicycling Center. He said the center will have a strong educational component as well as velodrome racing.

Nicole Fyffe, an assistant to the county administrator, said the bond committee will decide at its October bond meeting whether to include the whole $5 million in the bond election or provide the group with $3.5 million and have them secure the additional $1.5 million elsewhere.

According to DeBernardis, the major road block is whether the bond committee will put the bond package up for a vote in 2011. The 2010 bond was delayed because of the poor economy.

Carney said he didn’t think the bond would go for a vote in  2011 and said they would start looking at securing more money from private individuals.

DeBernardis said they want to move fast because if another city starts building one, Tucson will lose out. He said there was only enough demand for one velodrome in Arizona.

The velodrome committee received a $2 million commitment from the Zuckerman Family Foundation, to fund the operation of the track for 10 years after it is built.

According to Pima County bicycle and pedestrian program manager Matt Zoll, who also works on the velodrome group, the committee is currently considering several locations.

Zoll said they are looking at locations on the west side of Ina and I-10, the east side of I-10 at Valencia and the dirt parking lot outside Tucson Electric Park. He said they also considered a piece of land near the base of A Mountain, but said it would take several years to prepare the land. Check out the map. The story continues below.
View Potential velodrome locations in a larger map

Two years ago, the plan was to locate the velodrome at Udall park, but Zoll said homeowner complaints prompted the group to focus their efforts elsewhere. They also wanted something close to the interstate to make it easier for people from out of town to get to the velodrome.

Don Melhado, Tucson’s USA Cycling race official and velodrome committee member, said the velodrome would be a huge draw.

“During the winter we bring in dozens of international pros, who spend their winters in Tucson getting a step up for the spring season back in Europe,” Melhado said. “With that as a background the only piece of the puzzle that is still missing to sort of round out the cycling experience in Tucson competitively is the velodrome.”

Carney said he is working with the velodrome group to make sure Tucson builds a velodrome that will work for racers and for people with no experience.

“I’m trying not to be too arrogant,” Carney said. “I don’t think anyone has ridden more velodromes on the planet than I have. I have been racing since I was seven years old, I’m 41 now. I’ve seen all these tracks and all these different programs and which ones work and which ones don’t.”

Carney said the velodrome would be in high demand.

“The biggest problem with the velodrome is going to be, we’ve got so many things we want to do with it,” Carney said. “There are only 24 hours a day.”

Melhado said the velodrome would push Tucson over the edge for competitive cyclists.

“It will move Tucson’s stature from where it is now to probably the competitive cyclists’ Mecca of the world,” Melhado said.

Check out this El Grupo video from the Hermosillo velodrome:

13 thoughts on “Local group moving forward on velodrome plan”
  1. The TEP location would be horrible. It is right next to I-10. The noise from the freeway would be horrible.

  2. There was talk of a velodrome back in the late ‘702 early ’80s. At that time they wanted to put it between the Santa Cruz river and the I-10/I-19 interchange. I think that is still a good location because of freeway and downtown proximity.

    As for rzar’s comment about noise from the freeway being annoying – there’s no doubt he’s right. The deal is that the noise is why land along the freeways is less expensive and more feasable for a low budget project. The article already pointed out that a location near a freeway is more convenient for out-of-towners.

  3. Red Star commends Tucson Velo for finally reporting on the possibility and promise of a Tucson velodrome! Good job!

    Red Star favors a location somewhere in the industrial wasteland that lies somewhere south, southeast, and east of the Safeway at Broadway and Campbell. Or elsewhere in the immediate neighborhood where there is plenty of UA and City presence when it comes to sport facilities.

    Here’s why:

    Such a location is relatively close to UA: a built-in set of users and audience. And fans. Such a location is close to hotels (at Speedway and Campbell, downtown, airport), Aviation Bikeway and loop (revitalize Huckleberry’s vanity project and get something real out of it), the population density thereabout is right and is consistent with urban redevelopment and Tucson Cyclovia.

    This needs to be done, a Tucson velodrome, the Red Star way, not the shabby hedging Zoll I-10 way: a way that seems to involve teasing Maricopaland, Chandlerland in the name of careerism and constant apologizing. Tucson will lose that game — don’t play it.

  4. I vote yes! Make one. It would be cool. I agree that it would make Tucson more attractive to cyclists. I am from the commuter camp. I would like Tucson to be about commuting instead of sports. I think the sports aspect of it puts people off from commuting because they think they have to buy the tiny pants and be sporty, but an influx of bike pros would help everyone out. More pros, more fans, more people riding bikes in Tucson, more bike facilities. Everyone wins. Sports types and commuters. I vote yes! Woot!

  5. Dirt lot outside of TEP… put it *in* TEP! Baseball’s dead – they just haven’t figured it out yet.

  6. What can I do to support this project? This would be an awesome addition to Tucson’s cycling community!

  7. Any chance this project will include an inner track for inline track skating? Tucson and Phoenix both have large contingency of inline speedskaters. Including an inner track could open the doors for more potential use of the facility.

  8. For years Saguaro Velo has been holding track racing meetings and AZ state championships at the San Diego Velodrome. This year one person on the SDVA board of directors decided to limit Saguaro Velo to one weekend ostensibly because SDVA members do not benefit from or participate in the AZ promoted races. Last weekend at their track meeting the majority of the participants were indeed SDVA members looking for USA Cycling upgrade points. The AZ state championships and the other two race weekends were moved north 130 miles to the Encino Velodrome. I hope that the Tucson velodrome can break ground sooner than later to save the Arizona riders from having to make the long drive. I  for one will miss seeing them out here in San Diego, but I look forward to being invited to the grand opening ceremony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.