By Gerard Knapp
The Launceston Silverdome, the unique 285-metre velodrome complex in the Tasmanian city that hosts one of the popular 'Christmas Carnivals', is set to have a major upgrade in early 2006.
The Minister for Sport in the Tasmanian State Government, Jim Cox, told Cyclingnews at the Silverdome last night during the track racing that the Government will soon call for tenders for major refurbishment work to the multi-sport and entertainment venue.
While the Minister said there was no defined budget for the work, it's expected it may cost between $2-3 million, and include new roofing and upgrading general amenities within the complex.
The work may also extend to refurbishing the track surface, which has suffered over the years of constant use and the state of the roofing, but is still considered one of the finest and fastest velodromes in Australia.
According to Grant Atkins, the chairman of SCAT committee, the track is made from Tasmanian hardwood and was designed and built by legendary Australian (but British-based) velodrome builder Ron Webb.
While there is some debate over the merits of resurfacing the velodrome, a similar project was supervised by Webb to the hardwood velodrome used in the Athens 2004 Olympics, a velodrome where three new world records were set.
The Minister said it's expected that the government will call for tenders as early as January 3, 2006. He said the government was delighted with the popularity of the Christmas Carnivals. "I love the bikes," he said. "It's a good deal. It's got great racing at a really high standard, excellent crowds and many international riders."