By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Two years ago there were plans for an indoor velodrome outside of Philadelphia, organised by Dave Chauner, who promotes the annual Philly week of races. The plans seemed to be coming along until the major part of the financing fell through. But today the effort is alive again and taking significant steps toward making a third indoor velodrome in the US a reality.
"We came close a few years ago in Montgomery County – we had the investors and the property but the financial commitments from the state did not work out in terms of timing," Chauner told Cyclingnews. The bottom line is we went over to Chester County."
There are currently two proposed sites for the planned new-construction building that will house a 200-metre track, about an hour from downtown Philadelphia. "We are working with Dale Hughes to design the track and the facility around it. The building will be about 95,000 square feet with permanent seats. It will have locker rooms, bike storage and additional retail space."
When asked why not a 250-metre track, the recommended size to host UCI events, Chauner said the overall goal is not for that purpose. Instead he hopes this is the beginning of a league-type format that will more closely emulate American team sports, and subsequently generate wider interest.
"We thought about it but our goal is to present exciting bike races. We even almost did 166 [metres] but thought 200 was better because it gives us enough room in the infield. It will be an arena as well. These smaller suburban arenas are the future."
"We don't want to chase UCI races – we are looking at more of a team, league format. We are talking to velodromes around the world about that."
A possible concern is how close this proposed velodrome is to the existing outdoor facility in Trexlertown, about an hour away. But Chauner does not see a conflict, and actually sees the combination as a possible boon to track racing in the area.
"It kills me when everyone thinks a new velodrome is going to kill the others. Baseball has more than one stadium. I totally believe that this will be a terrific complement to Lehigh Valley – having a team from each compete against the other. Of course we'll have the winter training and programming, which will be the focus anyway to not compete with the road racing events."