Recreation: Plan for Draper Cycle Park, velodrome is on track
John Newell imagines it as a destination for world-class athletes, neighborhood cyclists and everyone in between, a bike-racing track in the mold of the Olympic facilities left behind by 2002's games.
Newell, chairmain for the Draper Cycle Park Association, is pitching the proposed Draper outdoor velodrome as part of a larger $9.7 million park, a boon for recreation, local bicyclists and national competitors looking to take advantage of the city's ideal 4,500-foot biking elevation.
"It would be open every day of the week and we'd have weekly races going on, kind of a community asset to support cycling. But it would also bring in large numbers of people as more of an economic development-type thing for these bigger national races," Newell said.
The velodrome will be part of the larger Draper Cycle Park, which, pending completion of fundraising, would open in 2016 near Corner Canyon. The park would house bike races on its unique banked track as well as in-line skating and roller derby events.
Marek Shon, a Utah bike racing promoter, called velodrome racing the "crack cocaine" of cycling because of the excitement for both riders and spectators.
"It's the perfect surface and the perfect bike. It's super fast and super exciting; it's amazing," Shon said.
Shon said the velodrome would round out the myriad cycling options in Utah, including road and mountain biking, and improve a state that already enjoys spending as much time on two wheels as possible.
"It's another piece of the puzzle as far as having world-class events here. Utah is all about tourism and having visitors, so it's another reason to bring people to Utah," he said.
The historical factor is there, as Utah once housed a velodrome in the early 1900s at Saltair. And although racing remains popular in Europe, Cycle Park Association treasurer Ryan Miller admits raising money has been a hard sell for some. There are 22 states with velodromes in the U.S., according to USA Cycling, with the closest housed in Colorado, Oregon and California.
"Fundraising is tough. We haven't had a track in Utah since the early [20th] century, so it's not as well-known to the general public," Miller said. "If we were in Europe, it'd be a no-brainer."
To date, $6.4 million has been raised for the project, with another $3.5 million to go to keep the timeline on schedule for 2016. Both Newell and Miller said the next step is finding corporate naming right sponsorships for the velodrome and other smaller parts of the park to raise the final chunk of funding.
"This could be the next Delta Center or USANA Amphitheater," Newell said.
Shon compared the potential of the velodrome to constructing a little league field, where an entire community could get invested in a "gamut" of events for the very young to the diehard racers.
"We've got little kids racing on the track, local adults racing on the track and we have the facilities to bring world-class six-day races to Draper," Shon said. "That would be awesome."
Info on the Draper Cycle Park
• The park is expected to open in 2016.
• The total cost of the project is $9.73 million, with $6.4 million raised to date.
• Utah would become the 23rd state with a velodrome racing track in the U.S.
• For more information, visit drapercyclepark.org.