The velodrome cycling track at the National Sports Center in Blaine will open again soon, after supporters raised enough money to pay for some much needed repairs to the structure.
A group called Friends of Velodrome Racing in Minnesota raised enough money to keep the 25-year-old track from closing for good. A statement released by the NSC Monday said the repairs, which are expected to cost about $100,000, will get underway immediately. The track should be open in time for the start of the racing season in May.
The velodrome’s outdoor wooden track, where cyclists speed around on fixed-gear bicycles without brakes, is in dire need of repairs. The 250-meter oval track was built in 1990, and parts of the structure are rotting and need to be replaced.
The outlook for the velodrome was grim last fall, when the extent of the necessary repairs became known and the NSC board of directors began considering closing the facility for good. The velodrome is owned by the state of Minnesota, and in December the board decided not to invest taxpayer money into the repairs.
That's when the private fundraising began.
The FOVRMN received donations from around the country from individuals and corporations, and attracted new sponsorships, said Tom McGoldrick, chairman of the organization, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
"The support has been amazing, very reaffirming," McGoldrick said. He declined to provide the exact amount that was raised, according to the Pioneer Press.
But even with the repairs, the track only has five more years of useful life. All parties have agreed that the facility will close for good after the 2019 racing season.
That will give cycling enthusiasts time to move forward with a plan for construction of a $40 million indoor cycling facility on a site in northeast Minneapolis, which will include an indoor velodrome, according to KSTP.
Velodromes are not very common in the U.S. The Blaine track has hosted Olympic cycling trials, U.S. National Championships and international Grand Prix competitions in addition to weekly racing events and classes each summer, according to the NSC website.
The closest velodrome to the Twin Cities is in Kenosha, Wis.