Cash call for roof project

By Zaryd Wilson

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SUPPORT NEEDED: Regional Velodrome Roofing Team members Leigh Grant and Bob Smith say the group are now seeking sponsors to come up with the $5.8 million needed to roof the Whanganui velodrome.
SUPPORT NEEDED: Regional Velodrome Roofing Team members Leigh Grant and Bob Smith say the group are now seeking sponsors to come up with the $5.8 million needed to roof the Whanganui velodrome.

It's time to show them the money.

With plans to roof the velodrome at Cooks Gardens advancing, the Regional Velodrome Roofing Team (RVRT) is now seeking sponsors to pay for the $5.8 million project. The group first presented the idea to the Whanganui District Council last year and councillors endorsed it in principle.

But no ratepayer money will go towards the 135m-long, 75m-wide tension membrane roof, which the group is confident of funding privately. The velodrome is owned by the council and managed by the Wanganui Events Trust.

RVRT member Bob Smith said since presenting it to the council steps had been taken to move the project along, such as wind tunnel modelling and lodging a resource consent. A detailed design and site investigation still need to be completed but the group says the project could be under way this time next year. A $5000 club and sponsorship packages, including naming rights, are available to businesses and individual donors.

"I guess it's the first of several initiatives to raise funds to build this facility," Mr Smith said. "We're also trying to tap into ex-pat Whanganui people."

RVRT member Leigh Grant said there had been a lot of interest on the back of several presentations by the group. "The business community have already indicated that they'd be prepared to support us and back us," he said.

"I've been taking inquiries through the Facebook page and several businesses within the Whanganui area are interested in talking to us further."

It was now about gaining momentum for a project that would have huge spin-offs for the city, he said.

"When you put a roof on it, it will be able to be used for so many more events." The group also had the backing of the entire region, which includes seven territorial authorities.

"We've presented it as a regional project that will benefit the whole region," Mr Grant said. "It shows the rest of New Zealand we're working together as a region."

The cycling community was in support as well, with the Whanganui velodrome being one of the few elite and fastest tracks in the country, Mr Smith said.

"Our lead cyclists love riding on this velodrome because they can record very fast times. We would get bigger events and we believe the elite cycling team would come down to train. People don't realise that this is a world-class facility."

The track was designed by internationally acclaimed designer Ron Webb and completed in 1997. It was one of the first in the world using "modern" long sweeping curves rather than long straights and tight bends.

A roof would also help to protect and prolong the life of the asset, valued at more than $7 million.

RVRT received about $85,000 from the Powerco Wanganui Trust to help with planning costs, while the four members have put money in themselves for initial plans.

+For more information about the plans and sponsoring: raisetheveloroof.org.nz.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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