New indoor velodrome to be built near Philadelphia
Second indoor velodrome in North America
Indoor Cycling Track for East Coast and Second in
Media release by Philadelphia's "procycling tour"
Lower Providence Township Manager, Joseph C. Dunbar, along with investors and project developers, announced on November 2nd that the first indoor velodrome and events center on the East Coast will be located on a 14 acre site not far from Valley Forge National Park just outside of Philadelphia.
The 2,500 seat arena and world class velodrome will be capable of hosting high level national and international competition and will provide a much needed year round facility for training and development of American cyclists. Although the velodrome and comprehensive cycling program will anchor the facility, the building will be designed for multi-use including expanded seating capacity to over 4,000 for concerts, other sporting events and community activities. Initial plans also call for connecting the velodrome, via bike path, to the widely used Schuylkill River and Perkiomen bicycle trails.
“Cycling is a great lifetime sport that promotes health, fitness and family recreation,” Dunbar said. “The Velodrome and related facilities will be the perfect recreational and entertainment addition to our area and will ensure that Lower Providence Township is in the forefront of bringing unique and exciting events to our township and the surrounding Delaware Valley.”
Dunbar indicated that a private investment partnership, American Management Group, LLC, is providing financial backing for the project and has entered into an Agreement of Sale to purchase a former semi-conductor plant that has been vacant on the 14-acre site for nearly a decade. The existing building will be demolished to make room for the 130,000 square foot arena and a 150-room hotel on the property. It is estimated that the velodrome will be completed within 18 months, ideally by early 2008 for Olympic preparation. Several architects are being considered for the project.
Dr. Bhaskar Savani, a principal in American Management Group indicated that the velodrome will be developed and operated by Velodrome Management Group LLC (VMG) of Norristown, the group that has been working to create an indoor velodrome in the Delaware Valley for over five years.
“My partners and I were interested in expanding our real estate and hotel business to include a sports facility,” said Dr. Savani. “We think cycling is a great sport and the idea of providing a year round venue for training and competition is very exciting, particularly since cycling is so popular in the area. When Velodrome Management Group approached us for backing with a solid plan, it was an easy decision.”
VMG principals include David Chauner and Jerry Casale, organizers of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown and Philadelphia International Cycling Championship. They also founded the Pro Cycling Tour and have been instrumental in growing and developing cycling in the United States for over three decades.
“We believe that indoor cycling has a huge future in the United States”, said VMG’s director, David Chauner, a two time Olympic cyclist and member of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. “It’s fast, colorful and exciting and is undergoing a surge in popularity around the world. Plus with over a dozen track cycling events for men and women in international and Olympic competition, there is a tremendous opportunity to develop American talent at this facility.”
Chauner says that, in addition to high-level competition, introducing area youth to cycling in all its disciplines will be a key objective of velodrome usage and points to the successful Air Products Development Program he and former partner Jack Simes created at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome. Since its inception in 1977, the program has introduced cycling to 14,000 youngsters and, over the years, has produced 16 Olympic team members including 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, Marty Nothstein.
Simes and his company, Veloplex Arenas, will be engaged to help plan and construct the facility, anticipated to feature a 250 meter board track designed and built by Peter Junek of Canada. Simes, a three-time Olympian and Olympic Team coach, will also work closely with VMG to create an innovative racing format with unique spectator appeal. Chauner and Simes also played key roles in developing Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley Velodrome near Allentown, recognized as the most successful outdoor velodrome in the United States. Both are members of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.
“In the mid-seventies, we proved that velodrome racing could be presented as entertainment as well as compelling athletic competition,” said Chauner, who related how he and Simes, then Olympic team coach, attracted international athletes and thousands of paying spectators to watch bicycle racing when the sport was virtually unknown. “In those days, there was no Greg LeMond, no Lance Armstrong and bicycle racing wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen.”
While cycling will provide the anchor program for the arena, it is the potential for additional events that excites Paul Decker, president of the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our research indicates that there is a universe of some 35,000 events that could potentially be held in the Center. Attracting some of these is a major goal for us, particularly when you consider that attendees spend money in the area and will make a significant contribution to our local economy,” Decker said.
Developers expect the velodrome and adjacent hotel to create nearly 100 new full and part time jobs and that $25 to $35 million will be pumped into the local economy by some 50,000 out of town visitors each year.
According to Dunbar, “We see this as a huge win for Lower Providence Township and the greater Philadelphia area.”
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