Comment 38430

By Andrew Iler (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:45:22

I have been a long-time reader of Raise the Hammer and I understand, respect and support all efforts to build the downtown core of the City and make it a vibrant place to live and to work.

However, I do believe that there must be some consideration as to the type of facilities, businesses and services that are complimentary to the effort to renew, rebuild and revitalize the downtown core.

Based on real world models, velodrome facilities are not generally used for such purposes and urban planners have very rarely located velodromes in highly urbanized settings.

The West Harbour location presents some significant challenges to the long-term viability of a velodrome facility. For one, the potential cost of remediation and land acquisition will likely exceed the $11.4 capital cost currently established for the velodrome. Does this make sense when the projected lifespan of the facility is only pegged at 15-20 years? Wouldn't it make sense to invest at least a small portion of the remediation and land acquisition costs into building a more sustainable and long-term facility?

The other issue that will have an immediate impact on the velodrome at the West Harbour location is the push to have it function as primarily an event centre, rather than a community centre. The whole concept of the "entertainment precinct" is to attract events and large numbers of people. In reality, the velodrome will play host to 5-8 major cycling events annually. These events will include provincial championships, national championships, UCI sanctioned races, World Cup, World Championships (depending on the scope of the facility), and other events. There will be a push to make the velodrome a concert hall, convention centre, field house, or some other venue other than for its initial intended purpose. The strength of the velodrome is not in its event-hosting capacity. The real benefits associated with the velodrome will be found in its substantial community-based health, fitness and participation-oriented programming for both cycling and non-cycling physical activities. This is where the primary revenue base to support the facility will come from, not events.

Cycling in Manachester and the UK has developed into a high profile sport because of the massive growth of participation and due to the success of the British Cycling Team. This growth was supported by the development of community level youth and school programs, as well as general public cycling programs at the Manchester Velodrome. Yes, they have had events and yes, they have had lots of people come to those events. The velodrome is located on the edge of the Eastlands part of the City and just less than a kilomtre from the Manchester Sports City, where Manchester City stadium and the raquet and athletics centres are located. The velodrome is a stand-alone facility that does quite well financially and it does contribute to the overall economy of the City, despite its non-central location in respect to downtown Manchester.

Hamilton already has Hamilton Place, Copps Coliseum, the Convention Centre, Theatre Aquarius, soon a new stadium, the Westside Theatre, and many other venues for concert, entertainment and convention related events. If these venues were already fully booked and utilized, then I could see wanting to build another event centre. The last thing that I want to see happen for either the City or for the sport of cycling is an under-utilized downtown facility.

The fact is that Canada is the only G8 country that does not have an international standard indoor velodrome. Having this facility is key to all aspects of our provincial and national cycling programs, for road, track and mountain biking and for a broad range of community level cycling and non-cycling recreational activities. This facility MUST work for the long-term and every effort must be put into ensuring that the facility is given a fair opportunity to succeed.

Velo wrote,

"You don't have to convince us, but you might want to tell these folks

The very people trying to put it out of reach of many Hamiltonians. "

Velo, please do feel free to contact me directly about the velodrome. My e-mail address is I would be happy to discuss the work we have done to bring the velodrome to Hamilton and to plan for its future success, so that you won't misrepresent our intentions or make inaccurate speculations about our position.

Your final comment that we are trying to put the velodrome "out of reach of many Hamiltonians" is a ridiculous distortion of the truth and is not based on fact or reality. In fact, the opposite is the truth. Our entire intention is to make the facility as accessible as possible to the greatest number of people as possible. This is why we have supported City Council's decision to undertake a business planning process specifically in respect to the velodrome.

This is a very unique opportunity for the City and for the sport of cycling. We must make sure that we make every effort to set the velodrome up for long-term success.

I would like to thank Raise the Hammer for the providing the opportunity to discuss this and many other important issues affecting Hamilton.


Andrew A. Iler

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