a velodrome in there somewhere.
The City of Portland recently ended its call for concepts to redevelop the Memorial Coliseum. There were 80 different concepts received — ranging from a world class bowling arena to “a museum that celebrates the bygone era of the automobile.”
Among the concepts, there are two that include a velodrome. One of them was proposed by Steve Brown; the racer, business consultant, and velodrome activist we’ve covered since back in 2006 when he worked a velodrome bill through the State Legislature. That effort ultimately stalled out, but Brown’s enthusiasm for bringing bicycle track racing to Portland is still going strong.
Brown’s proposal got some attention at the outset of this process, but it’s unlikely his small non-profit can keep up with the major money players that have since entered the race.
Fortunately, the proposal from Shiels Obletz Johnson, a major project development company, also includes a velodrome. Their concept is known as the MARC – the Memorial Athletic & Recreation Center. Here’s a snip from their description:
“The MARC will have a uniquely Portland spin by including facilities supporting our emerging bicycle culture, including an international-quality, demountable 152 meter velodrome…”
A velodrome would be just one of many sports at the MARC, making it “North America’s largest and most comprehensive center for sports events, athletics and training.”
And it’s good news for track fans because the MARC has some serious momentum. The Daily Journal of Commerce said it’s one of two top concepts (along with the Blazers’ “Jumptown”) and Ethan Seltzer, director of the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, gave the MARC a strong endorsement via a guest editorial in The Oregonian yesterday.
Of course, the MARC also seems too good to be true and I have some skepticism that they can actually fit all those various sports into one complex. Which begs the question… are they just stuffing as much as they can into their proposal to line up support from various interest groups? We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
You can learn more about all the concepts at a public presentation at the Coliseum on January 26th.