Pima County sends bond, velodrome to ballot

The proposed Tucson velodrome came one step closer to breaking ground Tuesday when the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to send the bond to the November ballot.

The measure passed 4-1 with Ally Miller being the lone “no” vote on the now $800 million bond, which now includes roads and various other projects, including the $3.5 million velodrome.

“With how big the bond is, it’ll be a tight vote,” said Joey Iuliano, a member of the Arizona Velodrome Committee, a group pushing for the project. “It depends on which segment the velodrome is in, how attractive the other projects are and how well we campaign for it with other project groups.”

Passing the board of supervisors was the second hurdle the track had to clear before it can become a reality. In January it passed the bond advisory committee 15-4, but lost $1.5 million of the requested $5 million, as the board whittled down the amount to spend on projects. But Iuliano said the now $3.5 million price tag would still be enough to build it.

Next it will ride with the full bond on the ballot in a November election. The bond will appear as seven segments, each voted upon separately.

The plan

Proponents of the plan, proposed nearly a decade ago, asked the county to keep the $3.5 million velodrome idea on the list projects for the bond election, which has been postponed for years due to recession turmoil.

The Tucson plan, similar to the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, S.C. and the Boulder Valley Velodrome in Erie, Colo., calls for a 250-meter concrete track and facilities such as an access tunnel, locker rooms, a small building, lights and seating for 1,000 spectators. The proposal cites a possible location at Kino Sports Complex near Country Club Road and Ajo Way in Tucson.

Cyclists argue the track could be an attraction for out-of-state riders from New Mexico, Nevada and Mexico who could benefit from a more closely-located facility. Another goal for the committee is to attract national and international cycling events – Arizona already is home to world cycling champion Gea Johnson (FASTER).

“For me personally, a velodrome would provide the opportunity to actually discover and reach my potential,” Johnson said. “I would be a much better rider right now if Arizona had a velodrome. I am at a significant disadvantage, especially competing on an elite level where, of course, the women train on a velodrome daily. The better I get, the more it becomes a problem – not the reverse.”

The velodrome committee wants the track to be a multi-use facility, used not only for track cycling and racing but also for volleyball, concerts, hand cycling and inline speed skating. They also propose to develop specialized programs to work directly with at-risk youth.

Iuliano said although the bond would cover construction, other operating costs would come from various sources.

What’s next

History shows a bond in Pima County would likely be approved by voters. However, planning and construction could take several years, and Arizona riders may not circle the track until 2020, Iuliano said.

“I’m really excited,” said 12-year-old national track champion and Phoenix resident Kayla Hankins. “The velodrome would put Arizona on a level playing field with other states, and we would have opportunities to do wonderful things with cycling and to develop many more track cyclists.”

Tucson Velodrome Proposal


Sarah Muench