Austin cycling center project ambitious

A nonprofit group, the Austin Velodrome Project, is pushing to build a $35 million indoor velodrome in Austin, Texas. The proposed facility, which has the support of the city's most famous resident, Lance Armstrong, would seat 5,000 people around a banked, 250-meter wooden track.

On the long run, the Austin Velodrome Project, if realized, could make the headquarters of USA Cycling move from the Olympic Training Center site in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Austin. "It would be a great opportunity to be (in Austin) as a national cycling center instead of as a tenant at the Olympic Training Center," head of USA Cycling, Gerard Bisceglia, told the American Statesman. "Our sport is beginning to ascend to the point where we need to have our own home."

Plans to create an ambitious developmental cycling program to train riders to compete in both track and road racing have the full support of the local seven times Tour de France winner, who also understood early proposals to create a Lance Armstrong museum in the facility.

"For cycling and the community, it's a big step," Armstrong said. "This would be a great way to bring kids into the sport and have them around coaches that are constantly observing them. I hope it happens." As for the museum, he continued, "I have a lot of my stuff - all my bikes from every Tour and all the jerseys. You could certainly put some interesting things in there."

So far, major national companies have been approached for corporate sponsorships to help build the velodrome, for which four locations are currently being examined. The Austin Velodrome Project would manage the facility and lease space to USA Cycling, which also would consider helping pay for the project.

"It would make Austin the center of the cycling universe," said Todd Reed, a corporate attorney and director of the board of the Austin Velodrome Project. "If we can lock down one of these very good, centrally located pieces of property, I don't think money will be that difficult."

One proposed site is part of a privately owned tract in Central Austin, the other three are public owned land: An old landfill at the southeast corner of MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and Town Lake would be available, as well as the Butler baseball fields on Toomey Road, west of Zachary Scott Theatre Center, and a site on the University of Texas' J.J. Pickle Research Campus in north Austin.

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