Pima County voters rejected on Tuesday a bond proposition that included plans to build a velodrome in Tucson.
The $800 million bond, broken out into various propositions on the ballot, failed across the board. A parks and recreation bond proposition that included the $3.5 million velodrome failed with only 40 percent approval.
Many were shocked by the results; Pima County has a history of passing bonds. Since 1974, voters have approved 12 separate bond proposals and a total of 54 bond questions with only four rejections.
“I’m super disappointed the bonds failed, not just because the velodrome was a project in one bond, but because the bonds represented one of the most open and publicly directed processes I’ve ever been a part of,” said Joey Iuliano, a member of the Arizona Velodrome Committee. “Each item would directly improve quality of life in the region.”
Iuliano blamed voter turnout, which totaled 27 percent of registered voters, accorrding to county statistics.
“If we’re unwilling to invest in ourselves, then who will?” Iuliano said. “The Pima County region will continue to lag behind in infrastructure repair and improvements and that makes it hard to attract new businesses and investments.”
Marla Closen of a group called NO on Pima Bonds advocated to vote against the propositions and told Tucson News Now that many people have fixed incomes and can’t afford more property taxes.
“We just don’t feel that our county can afford them right now,” Closen said.
What could have been
The Tucson velodrome plan, similar to the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, S.C. and the Boulder Valley Velodrome in Erie, Colo., called 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.
Cyclists argued 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. They said it could also attract national and international cycling events – Arizona already is home to junior national champion Dominic Suozzi (Big Picture Cycling) and world 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 wanted 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 proposed to develop specialized programs to work directly with at-risk youth.
Although the bond likely was the closest supporters came to making an Arizona velodrome a reality, the velodrome committee hasn’t given up.
Committee member Don Melhado and Iuliano said the committee will meet immediately to discuss next steps.
“Although the velodrome committee was truly disappointed with the outcome of the Pima County bond election, the committee has a contingency plan,” Melhado said.
Melhado and Iuliano said the committee will begin work on private funding immediately.