The days of Minnesota's only bicycle racing velodrome may be numbered.
With a mounting list of necessary repairs at the National Sports Center's velodrome in Blaine, board members are weighing whether to put in hundreds of thousands of dollars for a facility that attracts just a few thousand spectators a year- or close it up.
Built in 1990 for $1.3 million, bikers race around the wooden track with 43 degree banks. Now, stretches of wood are rotting. Trusses supporting the track have aged. Officials estimate a renovation would cost $850,000. Rebuilding it could cost as much as $1.2 million.
"The question from a management standpoint is how much do you invest in repairing a facility that is used by under 200 regular riders," Barclay Cruse, spokesman for the National Sports Center, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
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The National Sports Center's Foundation will discuss their options Dec. 18. The next-closest velodrome is nearly 400 miles away in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"It would be so sad to see it go away," said Matt Montesano, 31, who lives in Minneapolis and regularly races at the velodrome. "There's truly no other velodrome like it in the country. ... It's so unique and rare and special, and it really would be just such a waste of a very precious resource to close it."
Minnesota velodrome racers like Montesano are rallying around their wooden track, aiming to raise $60,000 to show National Sports Center officials that the velodrome has enough support that it should be kept open. That sum would cover another four years of use.
"If this track closes, it would be the end of velodrome racing in Minnesota at least in the short term," said Tom McGoldrick, chairman of Friends of Velodrome Racing in Minnesota. "We don't want to let that happen."