IMPRESSED he may be, but Jonathan Coleman's chequebook will remain in his pocket for now.

The Sport and Recreation Minister was in Whanganui yesterday to check out plans for putting a roof on the velodrome.

The Regional Velodrome Roofing Team have been working on the project for some years and last month put out the call for sponsors to help fund the $5.8 million project.

Yesterday the team presented its plans for the 135m by 75m tension membrane roof to Mr Coleman at Cooks Gardens. The venue is owned by Whanganui District Council and managed by the Wanganui Events Trust. No ratepayer money would go towards the project.


Mr Coleman was impressed and said a roof would turn the velodrome into a venue for everyone.

"There's the cycling aspect of it, but a covered facility would mean a facility that could be used for a whole range of other sports and events which would potentially have a region-wide benefit," he said.

"There's potential if done in the right way - and if this is more than just a cycling track - to drive visitation and economic activity."

But putting Government money towards the roof was not on the cards at the moment.

"I don't want to over-promise," Mr Coleman said. "There's nothing in any of the budgets in terms of capital to put into this, but the first step is always finding out what a project is about at the conceptual level.

"I'm sure there'll be more work and more discussions with Government over time."

He said he would continue to talk to Whanganui MP Chester Borrows about the project's progress.

"So you've got my interest - I've come here to find out about it and I'm impressed with what I've seen."

Mr Coleman said the design alone had the potential to make the velodrome an iconic Whanganui building.

Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith also turned up to add support for the velodrome to become a regional facility.

He said the Manawatu-Whanganui region and its seven councils were behind the project.

BikeNZ chief executive Andrew Matheson said the national body was also supportive.

The sport had had a successful time in recent years and was planning for even more.

Mr Matheson said the regions were important to the sport because "without the regions we're going to run out of great athletes".

The Whanganui velodrome roof project would work in with BikeNZ's plans to create between six and eight cycling hubs throughout the country.