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State fairgrounds might house new velodrome

Posted by on September 26th, 2007 at 12:29 pm

The Oregon State Fair Pavillion building
is being considered as a location
for a new velodrome.
(Photo courtesy Oregon State Fair)

Imagine being at the Oregon State Fair, chomping on a plate of fried food, and hearing a packed crowd erupt in a thunderous roar as track racers fly by on the way to a thrilling finish.

Earlier this month, a group of track racing promoters met with the Director of Oregon State Parks Tim Wood and took a step toward making that vision a reality.

The meeting came out of talks this summer with Wood about using the fairgrounds in Salem as a possible location for a new velodrome (Oregon State Parks owns the Oregon State Fair).

Joining Parks Director Tim Wood at the meeting were: Oregon State Fair Manager Dave Koellermeier, Portland Velodrome Project leader Steve Brown (remember him?); Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) President Mike Murray; and velodrome architect Peter Junek.

The group looked a two buildings as potential sites for a new velodrome.

The first was a large livestock barn. According to Steve Brown, who I spoke to via phone this morning, this would be a natural fit. However, it has one major drawback; “The only other time it’s used is during the State Fair…which would negate our dream of having a six-day race during the Fair.”

Steve Brown wants a new velodrome in Portland

Velodrome advocate Steve Brown.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

Instead, Brown says there’s another building that the group is excited about: The Pavillion. He says this 110,000 square foot building would be “a great racing environment” and that, “it would be absolutely perfect for a small velodrome…it’s even got seating already in it for about 2,500 to 3,000 people.”

The size of the Pavillion would restrict the velodrome track to a maximum track length of 178 meters (for perspective, Alpenrose Velodrome is 268 meters) . This means the venue could not host World Championship-level competitions and sprinters who favor long straightaways might not be thrilled with the layout.

However, Brown says the potential size is comparable to many tracks in Europe and adds that due to the width of The Pavillion, the turns could be made nice and wide (much easier to ride than the abrupt turns at Alpenrose).

Brown envisions this new velodrome as a future regional training hub for U.S. National Team members prepping for competition in Europe. “Once the weather turns cold and rainy,” he says, “the only place many track athletes can currently train is in Los Angeles.” Brown notes that the former training location of the National Team — Colorado Springs, Colorado — is no longer available.

Initial considerations call for the track to be made out of plywood at a cost of just $150,000. Velodrome builder Peter Junek — who specializes in making inexpensive tracks — is currently working up a proposal to be presented to Oregon State Parks.

According to Brown, nothing is set in stone at this point and many details remain. However it’s clear that there is enthusiasm and momentum for making this happen (you might recall the conversations about a new Oregon velodrome this past legislative session).

Stay tuned for developments…and keep your fingers crossed!

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bahuehSteve BrownGarlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.comwsbobjohn Recent comment authors
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Dave
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Dave

I assume you meant a 178m maximum track length, not radius. Radius refers to the sharpness of the corners – Alpenrose is about 15m according to google earth.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

yes. thanks Dave. I\’ve made the correction.

john
Guest
john

Sounds like the track would almost be round?

With cyclocross season upon us, i have often wondered if anyone has thought of running some dirt moving equipment for a couple days and making a packed dirt velodrome.. ie banked and everything. I could just imagine doing the madison on a fixy with cross tires in the rain… probably would need to require fenders 🙂

Joel
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Joel

This is exciting news indeed! I appreciate that funds are limited, but if this is going to be a training facility for the US National team, let\’s not cheap out on materials and design. While something is better than nothing, let\’s make sure that the new \’drome\’s size and materials are suitable for the US Nat. team\’s requirements.

There was some talk in the past about developing a major cycling training facility near Portland, including spinning rooms, velodrome, weights, the whole shebang. Seems like the profits from a top-shelf, world-class facility would pay or the investment over time, especially if we can get guys like Discovery or HealthNet to use it as a major training location.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Joel…don\’t mean to steal your thunder but Discovery died this year. they\’re done. a local velodrome would be for local, amateur racing for the most part…attracting some national class talent on occasion, depending on the organized event.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

p.s..do these guys really think 2500 to 3000 spectators will show to a velo race? Alpenrose gets maybe 50-80 spectators on a busy race day…

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

Geez bahueh, way to dream big!

Part of the problem with Alpenrose is that it\’s in a weird location, it\’s not covered, and events there do not receive major marketing efforts. By putting the excitement of track racing at the State Fair, you\’d see way more spectators than ever. I don\’t think a few thousand at a track event is a out of the question at all.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I would be fantastic to build an indoor, world competition class velodrome and associated facilities in Salem. It would help solidify Oregon\’s place in the cycling community worldwide and would provide training opportunities for pros and amateurs.

Steve Brown
Guest

What attracts the national team and other top riders is a great supportive community and a good place to live. Peter Junek has designed and built several tracks for championship events. If Salem can support minor league baseball, a similar crowd for indoor track racing is not a reach. This is a great opportunity to bring track racing into the bigger community. LA has a world class facility and it has done little for US track racing. Alpenrose has produced some good riders. It is all about the program, not the track.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Jonathan..
don\’t mean to sound negative, but I race regularly at Alpenrose and just don\’t see the turnout…same with road races, CCX races, etc. I don\’t think its so much the venue or location as it is the fact that track racing is a fringe sport…its not mainstream after 50+ years of existence… Steve B. is right on track with his assessment of the situation…but even this article states its not suitably shaped for world-class events, but for anyone to expect upwards of 3000 people in Salem, Oregon to attend a local cycling event…come on…I have to question that..

JayS.
Guest
JayS.

Other groups have had a hard time building lasting relationships with the state fair. i would be very cautious.

Joel
Guest
Joel

\”Joel…don\’t mean to steal your thunder but Discovery died this year.\”

Yeah, realized that *after* I hit submit. I was trying to mention US-based teams. Oh well. It\’s the thought that counts, right?

john
Guest
john

One advantage that Portland offers is its very nice mass transit system (and bicycle routes). Being able to arrive in Portland and not have to worry about car rental or driving is super nice. How much of an influence this might be is debatable, but certainly couldn\’t hurt in drawing participants and spectators from around the US and World. That said, grassroots and local participation is the most important for year round operation. I would aim for participants first then worry about spectators. And it seems, similarly to cross, people need to particpate first before they become spectators. For weekly evening races, it will be hard to draw participants that are more than 30-45 minutes away. Obviously there is much thought (and debate) being put into this before considering any location other than portland-vancouver area, and its vastly greater cycling population.

zak
Guest
zak

\”…track racing is a fringe sport…its not mainstream after 50+ years of existence…\”

bahueh-please direct your attention to this book: http://www.sixdaybicyclerace.com/

track racing used to be one of the most popular american sports, specifically sixday races (altho they are not actually sixdays and nights) and they are still very popular events in europe.

also, this isnt something to replace alpenrose. i believe that there would still be plans to build a track in portland. i know i dont want to drive to salem on a weekly basis.

zak
Guest
zak

…also a drawback at alpenrose is that you cant drink. in other citys where you can get beer at the track, there are quite a few more people. hell some tracks charge admission!

wsbob
Guest

Cycling might be a nice draw for the State Fair run. The Fair needs something new to integrate and energize its traditional purpose with newer interests as well.

No doubt it\’s been discussed, and already dismissed, but was just wondering if the coliseum ever had a chance in hell of hosting a velodrome. Too many other sports I suppose; soccer, monster trucks, etc.

zak
Guest
zak

the coliseum i beleive is also to small for a world class sized velodrome (250m)

Steve Brown
Guest

The State Fair has a lot of people already coming to the venue, adding a new an exciting event for a large crowd is a small step. Extending the racing season into the fall for a limited number of events adds to the season at Alpenrose, builds toward US Nationals and the UCI season. The Salem location is 35 minutes from SW Portland. Anyone who has ever felt the warmth of the applause of a small group at Alpenrose will glady ride again to hear 2500 roaring their approval. While attending Lewis & Clark College I had the opportunity to run in the mile relay at the evening season of the Oregon Indoor at the Memorial Coliseum. I still remember the screams of the full house crowd as we blew around the boards. We can easily have that in Salem. If this low cost approach works, maybe we can find a little more support for a venue in Portland. FYI, as soon as the UCI recognizes the 200M track as suitable for championship events, the Memorial Coliseum works.

Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com
Guest

I wonder why nobody is considering putting in a Velodrome at the Portland Expo Center or the Memorial Coliseum area? Both of those locations would see a lot more year-round use that the state fairgrounds in Salem.

Not that it\’s either/or — both locations would be ideal, as well as something in Eugene and the Rogue Valley — but if just one location for the state is picked, shouldn\’t it be a location that is transit-accessible and likely to draw the largest crowds to events and the most users to the track?

Steve Brown
Guest

A Portland site would be great but State Parks has a building, the money and the desire. The three things you need for an indoor velodrome. One of the goals is to show how to do this with availale resources and a small budget. Makes the idea of building in other sites across the state very doable. Find a big old building and a sponser I bet I can help you get a track going anywhere.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Zak-
ya, I know about six day races…I also know that there are only two or three of them in the country now…dont\’ get me wrong, I love racing at Alpenrose and any track and would most likelyl race at a Salem venue…but I would never expect 2500 people to show up..ever. The general public doesn\’t know velo races and they don\’t understand velo races…and the general public would be needed to fill 2500 seats at any given event.
I call it a \”fringe\” sport because even only a handful of committed OBRA riders show up to Alpenrose, compared to the racing community as a whole. My mental comparisons come with building something like a baseball park..stadiums are not erected without a team in mind..and the team in Oregon is VERY small..

Cameron
Guest
Cameron

Have you been to the State Fair lately? Thousands of people and nothing better to do than watch cows. Now cow watching can be fun but doesn’t compare to bike racing. 2500 people will show up during the fair just because they wandered in to the wrong building.