Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Velodrome idea in the hunt as Memorial Coliseum talks begin

Posted by on July 23rd, 2009 at 11:22 am

“The dreamers whom Steve Brown bikes with can see it already: a velodrome, with a gasp-inducing view of downtown Portland, centrally situated to draw on the city’s bicycle culture and attract businesses, families and world-class racers. And for them, the dream comes alive … inside Memorial Coliseum.”
— Intro from article in The Oregonian on July 16th

As the Mayor’s Office puts the pieces together on a process to re-think Memorial Coliseum, the idea to install a velodrome inside the building remains a front-runner.

Rendering of a bicycle velodrome on upper tier of Memorial Coliseum by Jeff Mitchem of Ankrom Moisan Architects
a feature story about velodrome backer Steve Brown’s efforts (similar to what we reported a week prior). For The O to devote its time to the velodrome idea is a good sign that it has legs. It’s also the only potential Coliseum concept to get such media attention so far.

“If there was a bike racing track in Memorial Coliseum, it would be so packed with bike fans it would look like the Beatles came to Portland every event night.”
— Sarah Mirk, Portland Mercury

Also in that story, it was reported that Steve Brown has met with the Trail Blazers to pitch his idea. As holders of right of first refusal on whatever happens to the Coliseum, the Blazers will play a key role in the building’s future. According to The O, the Blazer’s Senior VP called the velodrome, “…certainly an option that should be considered and explored.”

Prior to that story, in article in The O about the task force being formed to revitalize the Coliseum, reporter Mark Larabee mentioned an “indoor bike track” as one of three ideas being tossed around.

The Portland Mercury called the velodrome idea “Fantasy use #1/1000”, but in a blog post about it they wrote, “If there was a bike racing track in Memorial Coliseum, it would be so packed with bike fans it would look like the Beatles came to Portland every event night.”

Mayor Adams is currently putting together the Rose Quarter Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC). That committee will help develop the criteria for evaluating which ideas pass muster for the “renovation or adaptive reuse of the Coliseum.” They’ll give their top recommendations to City Council in spring of 2010. If you want to help shape the future of Memorial Coliseum, applications are due by August 5th.

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  • sh July 23, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I don’t even ride track, but I LOVE this idea x10. If they could work a pump track in the middle area I’d love x20.

    Hooray for Fantasy use #1/1000″!

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  • CAPS July 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

    +1 for the pump track. would make it more appealing to additional users…

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  • Nicky V July 23, 2009 at 11:50 am


    My wife and I watched track racing out at the Alpenrose Velodrome last weekend and we’re hooked. (Jen Featheringill became my favorite cyclist.) A velodrome here in town would really boost Portland’s bike rep even further.

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  • patrickz July 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    YES!! We’got the rep; now let’s work on it.

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  • indy July 23, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    It wouldn’t be Portland without pushing unpopular sports to fill empty stadiums.

    Biking: great. Biking in circles thousands of times? snooooore.

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  • solid gold July 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    i agree, i think we should be focusing MORE money and time and bringing sports games to portland, rather than funding education and infrastructure. those are boring! we should DEFINITELY be spending our money on bread and circuses, after all, it worked GREAT for Rome…

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  • Nicky V July 23, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    solid gold #6,
    If infrastructure money brings us projects like the CRC, then I’d rather have a velodrome.

    I haven’t clicked on any of the links. Does anyone know what the pricetag for this would be?

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  • E July 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    and NOBODY have ANY fun until all the starving children in Africa are fed, too!

    jeez. I’d much rather see this than a brand new stadium for the beavers. less money, more fans.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2009 at 12:47 pm


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  • toddistic July 23, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Yes please.

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  • redhippie July 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    A great idea is also for indoor mountain biking. Here is an example in cleveland where a old factory has been converted to year round venue. http://www.raysmtb.com/

    This Coloseum is also comprised of a series of subteranean open galleries that would be perfect for this. Imagin an escalor for bikes at the end that Take the rider and bike back up to the top of the elevation.

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  • Steve Brown July 23, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Cost for the track is estimated at $250K. This whole amount can be paid for by fees, sponsorship and race revenue. Basic cost to the city to build the track and run the program is zero. Eventual upgrades to the MC are something else. But it is a great low cost way to use the building, provide great entertainment, recreation and kids programs.

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  • Dabby July 24, 2009 at 10:11 am


    On the topic of pump tracks….

    No need to spend the cities money.(or anyone else’s for that matter)

    Just ask me to come dig one in your yard……

    Have shovel will travel…

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  • dan November 2, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Hell yeah to #11’s suggestion for an indoor MTB facility at the Coliseum. RaysMTB is able to charge pretty hefty user fees – I think more than $10/day. A facility like that definitely has the potential to be self-supporting.

    Also, if we had a velo track in the coliseum, it would make a sweet track for banked-track roller derby. !!!

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