Giordana Velodrome opens in South Carolina

Track racing returns to South Carolina with the opening of the Giordana Velodrome located at the Riverwalk community in Rock Hill. For those who may not know the rich history of track racing, this discipline was a very popular sport in the early 1900s. Rock Hill boasted two velodromes at the time and well over a thousand fans would line the track to enjoy the racing.

However, the popularity of a new form of transportation, the automobile, muted the growth of the sport.

Now after several years of planning by local attorney Spencer Lueders, the city's Economic Development Department, and Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, the Giordana Velodrome is opening to the public. The track is a 250-meter, 42.5 degree banked track and meets Olympic standards.

The outdoor concrete track was designed by German architect Ralph Schuermann.

Track certification is required before being allowed to race on the velodrome. For those without track bikes, rentals are available for a fee.

There is grandstand seating that will accommodate 800 people as well as an overhead officials booth.

In addition to the velodrome the 250 acre Riverwalk area is also developing a cyclo-cross course, mountain bike trails, a one to one and a half mile road course for criterium racing, and a BMX track. A mixed use retail/living space design element is also part of the Riverwalk project.

The funding for the velodrome came from the city which sought $5 million through the federal new market tax credit. In addition $700,000 was raised in sponsorship money – exceeding the $500,000 goal. The clothing manufacture Giordana paid for the naming rights and will contribute $20,000 each year for 10 years. Gita Sports, which imports Giordana as well as other Italian cycling brands, is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates and the Carolina HealthCare System also contributed to the velodrome's funding.

For the first seven years only the interest on the $5 million is to be paid and $1.2 million will be forgiven at the end of the seven years. Additional financing came from recovery zone development bonds, hospitality tax and escrow payments. No property tax or general fund money financed the project.

The velodrome, with its other cycling and retail amenities, is expected to generate $4 million annually. With national caliber races on the calendar velodrome officials expect large crowds which is further backed by a several impact studies.

Velodrome cycling coordinator Thad Fischer told the Heraldonline that the first velodrome training clinic attracted people from Georgia and North Carolina.

"This venue is going to attract a lot of people to Rock Hill, a lot of tourism dollars coming in," said Fischer.

The Giordana Velodrome will host USA Cycling's 2012 and 2013 International Omnium Track National Championships.

"We are proud to have been selected to host the 2012 and 2013 USA Cycling International Omnium Track National Championships in our new Giordana Velodrome," stated City of Rock Hill City Manager David B. Vehaun. "Choosing the Giordana Velodrome indicates a significant level of confidence in the facility and all the partners involved."

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