Strong views for and against velodrome

By Sophie Price

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The Napier City Council is proposing building a multi-purpose facility, including a velodrome near the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Taradale. PHOTO/Duncan Brown
The Napier City Council is proposing building a multi-purpose facility, including a velodrome near the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Taradale. PHOTO/Duncan Brown

FEBRUARY 17 will see the close date on the Professional Services Contract for the proposed Hawke's Bay Multiuse Velodrome.

This means a design team for the construction on a design-build basis of an indoor track cycling and multiuse facility alongside Pettigrew Green Arena will be chosen.

Within the $15 million budget, excluding GST, the council's vision for the project is to be an outstanding nationally recognised community facility that maximises club and community use, hosts Cycling New Zealand development programmes and national events, and supports the region as a whole by being a multiuse facility used by other sports and a range of community events.

The council has, subject to securing sufficient funding, a budget of $15 million for the development of the velodrome including design, consenting, contracting and supply, construction, equipping (including track), fit-out and commissioning, the contract states.

According to the document, by choosing to locate the multiuse velodrome alongside the Pettigrew Green Arena, with the final location on the proposed site to be a key design consideration, the development will be a combination of a new facility potentially integrated with the possible utilisation, modification, alteration or extension of an existing facility.

"The consultant (design team) must consider a range of building structures in order to achieve a cost effective and functional outcome providing the following - indoor velodrome, including cycle track, tunnels and spectator area multiuse centre for other sports and events," the contract reads.

"Service course, the primary service base for bike storage, maintenance and repair services, support facilities.

"That is office space, meeting rooms, changing rooms and toilets and external facilities [such as] parking."

The contract also notes the potential integration of the multiuse velodrome with the existing arena will be a design factor and is considered key to achieving the council's objectives and budget.

The suggested plans, as seen above, offer up what such a sporting facility could look like.
Beyond the loudest proponents for such a facility, the Ramblers Cycling Club, other groups such as USO Bike Ride have also come out in support of such a move.

Uso, a Samoan word meaning brother, has been styalised by the group to signify Understanding Strengthening and Overcoming or USO.

The group runs safe and supportive beginner cycling sessions with an aim to increase commuter cycling numbers.

"Through learning how to cycle, participants become better users of road vehicles," its website reads.

"Our supporters and sponsors are also behind our kaupapa of improving the health and wellbeing of Polynesian people by bike."

In its submission to the council Long Term Plan, USO Bike Ride came out in direct support of the velodrome.

"Polynesian people are physically suited to the explosive power of track cycling," it wrote, citing Natasha Hansen as the first New Zealand track cyclist of Samoan heritage to race at the Olympics.

"Cycling indoors is a safer option for parents to cycle and encourage their kids to give it a go.

"Educating parents about cycling will open opportunities for children to be involved."
Moreover, the group said that with a velodrome there is strong potential to develop other opportunities for Pacific community events, festivals and celebrations.

"[It will] support the development of cycling leagues for Polynesian church and community groups," USO said.

"[And] attract developing Polynesian cycling nations to upskill in cycling infrastructure development, cycle coaching and training opportunities.

"USO members love coming to Hawke's Bay for USO Bike Ride training camps - the weather, roads and environment are perfect."

It is the sort of submission that lent support to a facility that failed to make mention in last year's Hawke's Bay Regional Sport Facilities Plan.

For cycling the plan suggested the sport "Develop a better business case study for a velodrome in Hawke's Bay aligned with the National Cycling Major Events Strategy."

The plan saw the highest priorities in gymsports, cricket, indoor court sports and softball - the latter which has seen a 53 per cent increase in affiliated membership since 2008.

Despite this, NCC project manager Geoff Balme believes there will be a good uptake in use of the facility.

"Yes," he said when asked if people would pay to use the velodrome.

"The huge community use at Cambridge has proven that there is a place on the sporting, recreation, fitness and tourism landscape for track cycling in a modern facility.

"There is a general misconception that only serious track cyclists ride at velodromes but the reality is that track cycling is increasingly attractive to all types of cyclists and is an alternative that compliments the skills required for other cycling disciplines while providing fun and fitness, often with friends, in an enjoyable environment.

"If you can ride a bike you can ride on the track after appropriate instruction."

Opponent and local sport and recreation professional Brendon Rope, however, states in regards to whether or not such a facility would be profitable that as a multiuse facility there were too many variables to confirm that assumption.

"It will create space allocation decision conflicts unless there is independence of management," he said in his submission to the council Long Term Plan.

"There are health and safety risk mitigation considerations on top of the financial ones and there are better investment options for greater community outcomes."

Talking to Hawke's Bay Today, the former Pettigrew Green Arena chief executive officer said he thought the concept behind having a multi-purpose facility was so other sports such as futsal, netball and basketball could use it.

"But to get a surface in there that accommodates the cycling and then tries to accommodate the likes of those indoor sports, you are not going to get a surface that meets the standard required," Mr Rope said.

"So there is a real conflict of providing a multipurpose-type surface and facility and having cycling - it clashes."

Mr Balme, however, said the court surface of such a facility would be a "key consideration" during the design stage with current thinking being that the facilities provided for other sports in the centre of the track, and how they are integrated with cycling.

He said the surface would be to the required regulations including floor surface and therefore will be able to attract serious sport to the region.

"A real attraction of locating the multi-use velodrome adjacent to the Pettigrew Green Arena is that it will provide an additional three regulation courts for indoor sports," he said.

"With the result being that together six courts, and possibly a smaller warm-up court also in the velodrome, can be provided for hosting major tournaments.

"We have been told by the sports spoken to during stakeholder consultation - especially basketball, futsal and volleyball - that this would provide a significant enhancement for attracting major sporting events to the Hawke's Bay."

At the end of the day, Mr Rope said that the demand for track cycling indoors has to be significant and the price per-use attractive.

"I would suggest that, while cycling is strong in Hawke's Bay, our good weather accommodates this well," he said.

"A cyclist will be faced with a decision to pay a fee to ride around the track or get out on the road at no cost.

"Athletes in Hawke's Bay are primarily amateur and therefore have limited discretionary income. In winter the demand will be higher. Council has to be certain the demand is there or prepare to fund the operation."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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