Tucson Velodrome. To be or not to be?

Tucson and a Velodrome

Of all the great cycling infrastructure we have in Tucson it seems like a Velodrome is a missing link.

Over the past few years I have had many conversations on the Velodrome and the history in getting it built here. I was thinking of going into that here, but am going to skip it because where we have come from is less important than what we need to do today and in the next 30 days.

On Friday, December 12, 2014 there was a meeting with the Pima County Bond Advisory committee to get their blessings for including the Velodrome on the next bond issue. We were asking for 5 million dollars in what will be a half billion dollar bond. The cycling community stepped up in a big way last week and did everything in advance of the meeting that could be expected and more. Letters were sent to the committee from locals, our cycling friends around the country and even Canada. We had more people at the Bond meeting to speak than any other issue on the agenda.

At the meeting the Pima County Administrator gives a thumbs up or down on funding for the various bond issues. They supported almost all of the bond issues on the agenda but they did not support the Velodrome.

The good news is that at the meeting, they gave us the reasons they disapprove. All of objections can be overcome if we work together in the next month. The three key factors are location(or lack thereof), an operating agreement and community participation in the funding( this was not clear, but I think both capital and sustaining costs)

There was a vote to completely remove the issue from the bond election, but that failed. I had the feeling that those who most ardently oppose the project are doing so for 2 reasons. 1- There is some political bad blood between the organizers of the Velodrome and the Bond members. This is just my opinion and I may be way off, but I’m not;-)   2- We did not have our act together and after 7 years of asking for funds for the project I get the feeling that some members feel we are just wasting their time. I am reaching out to those I think are opposed because they are more against the personalities involved and not the issue. As for the second group, if we can come up with a concrete plan and stick with that, we might bring them on board. Either way, they were a minority, but there concerns helped keep the vote fro being in the Velodromes favor.

The ultimate decision in the meeting was to give the Velodrome a stay of execution.   We will be back at the January meeting to re-present. The county asked for meetings to discuss the objections they have. The primary ones being the location and operating agreement . One of the Committee members, Mr. Wexler, expressed an interest in bringing the Velodrome to some land he is a partner on near Tangerine Road. Kino Sports Complex is the other location on the table. A meeting with Mr. Wexler is set for next week and the county meeting to address the Kino location has not been set.

Following the meeting the group in support met outside to discuss what the next step is. Don Melhado, who has been a part of the project from the beginning, had the worst idea I’ve heard in some time. He recommended that I take the lead on this project. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to give, but it really needs someone to take the reins. Until I can find that person, I will help rally the troops in preparation for the final meeting. I’ll need some help and feel good about the 20 plus who took their time to show up for the meeting and the others who sent in letters, but if we want to see this happen, we will need YOU!

Richard DeBernardis, Don Melhado, Jon Roberts and Joey Luliano are working on the issues relating to the location and creating an operating agreement with the county. . I’ll be heading up the efforts to get more letters to the committee and funding. I’ve already started the conversation to see specifically what the committee and county want us to provide in terms of community matching funds. It was also unclear if the concerns are for the original construction capital or sustaining the Velodrome for perpetuity. I expect it will be some of both and will be looking for YOU to be a founding member, a sustaining member or commit to buying an annual membership to use the facilities . Best part, most will only be pledges, so it is not be a cost you will need to worry about today. Unless you happen to have a few million dollars and want the thing named after you. In that case, we should talk.

If you have interest in being involved, please send me an email at Damion@damionalexander.com and put Velodrome in the subject line.

Below are the short notes I took at the meeting. I was paraphrasing and gotting these down on the I-phone, so they are not the best. Hopefully, I’ll post the minutes for the meeting when I get them. Again, time is not on my side so I am just giving what I wrote at the meeting.

SPEAKING IN FAVOR OF THE VELODROME. Each speaker was allotted 1 minute.

David Grief. UA student. Came here for the cycling. From San Diego. Had a velodrome been here it would have made his choice to go to UA even easier.

Joey Luliiano

Pres. Of ua cycling. Helped write proposal for the current Velodrome . One of the concerns about the Velodrome is the cost will be much more than 5 million. Rock Hill, SC just built one and it cost less than the 5 million for the Bond in Tucson.

Brendan Lyons.Executive Director for a advocate group called Look, Save a life Arizona. Told all of the rakings for Tucson in the biking world from different organizations.

Ted Frohling did not speak

Don Mellano. USA cycling. Over 3000 people race each year in Tucson The. Velodrome will ad an additional 5000-6200 racers. The Economic impact of this is like having another El Tour each years and it will happen without any cyclist being on your road/

Ben Elias. Youth programming. Healthy and happy lifestyle of cycling.. Encourage local youth. El Grupo Youth Cycling.

David Swanson. Cyclist and race with para cycling team. Spectator friendly, kids racing. Safe and controlled environment. Can be used for multi use from volleyball courts and spectator events.

Kevin Harsley. Racing for 20 years. Will start driving to San Diego next year. Money will be spent in San Diego instead of Tucson. Will volunteer there instead, but would like to keep his money and community envolvement in Tucson

Ken Montany. Racer. Commuter. Bike shop employee. Sees infrastructure is here to see people involved. This is another way to get more people on bikes.

Richard DeBernardis – This can be done under 5 million. We need r=this for gabby for the 95 year old. We need this for the local Pascua Yaqui tribe who put over 100 cyclists in El Tour this past year.

Alisa Neave. Tri girl. Coaches with Jr. El Tour. Professional volunteer. Safe place for kids. Need a place where kids and the community can get there race on and get more people involved. The loop is great, but it is not the environment to race/ Increase property values. Entertainment

Gord Fraser Canadian Olympic coach. In Canada they are excited Tucson could have the team here on a velodrome. As the coach Gord would rather sleep in his own bed at night and if we have the Velodrome the team will train here.

Allison Alterman. UA student. Came here for cycling team. As an emerging varsity team more pull for out of state students.

Kevin Goldstein. Makes specialty earbuds. Velodrome would create business. He would be advertise to support the Velodrome with his pocketbook as well as be a spectator.

Paul Dominguez Moved here for the cycling. Thrilled by the idea of the velodrome. Goes to multiple venues to ride the track. Track builds a lifetime of character. And health for kids

Elaine MariolleMarketing at el tour Good for beginning to advanced/ She works with many at risk youths. This is a great venue for kids in a safe environment.

Curtis Gunn. Former pro cyist. Avid cyclist. He was a Fat kid. Velodrome in Atlanta is where he got fit. Gave him the opportunity to lose the weight and has lead to a healthy lifestyle.

Ben Ferguson Mentioned the 5 c’s. Started for the Climate but became an avid cultist because of the culture. It is fun. It will continue to grow the community.


Nanette Slusser: County recommended that the Velodrome not be added to the bond election. In the past year the county has attempted to arrange sit downs with those interested in the Velodrome and those meetings never happened. There is a concern for the location. It will take up a footprint of nearly 6 acres to build the Velodrome. That does not include parking. Kino Sports complex may work, but the concerns the county has have been unanswered.

Carolyn Campbell. Go over operating costs. Main key is the operating Velodromes have a major ongoing subside. Many have not been successful. Most need a benefactor to be sustainable.

Gary Davidson. There was a May 13th chuck memo. Still don’t have a site? Also, there is still not an operating agreement in place.

Tom Warne. How large is the site? He is in favor for youth. Does not have an agreement for oporating. Sees the value of theft Lowell Shootout and UA book fair and what they have done for Tucson.. No parks are self supporting. Does not look at it as a business from a P and L standpoint. . Sees it as good for the community’s, but wants to see a road map.

Nanette. Can it work at Kino? Is there parking? Is it self-sustaining. Need discussing of a deal for the bond project and what the applicant can do. 6 acres plus parking The next meeting Is Jan 9th. Can we get a matching fund.? We need a binding agreement?

Chris sheafe. We have funding that says they will back it up but are waiting to see what is happening. He is making a motion to move it on as a community investment in lifestyle and this will benefit the community and that we are the growing area of the community.

Richard DeBarnadrdis. There were matching funds before from a community member, but due to changes in financials those are not there now. As for matching funds, when pressed by the committee. He said Perimeter Cycling will sign an agreement for funds.

Nicole Fyfee. It has been difficult to get Richard to sit down. Will Richard sit with the county at any time.

Richard _ I’m her 24/7. Just tell me where you want to meet.

Gary Davidson – Can’t vote for it if it does not have a specific site. We need some details. I’ll vote for it, I think it’s a good idea, but it needs to be defined. Too much up in the air after 7 years.

Ted pretzelski – Sounded pie in the sky. Supporters have done everything they are supposed to do. But concerns. Difficult to turn a profit. Wants to know more of recent projects. When he sees cycling he sees recreational cyclists. Concerned when this hits the ballot that the radio hosts will blow it to pieces. Needs help from the cycling community and will they come out and support this.

Tom Warne. We are not looking at the big picture. So many benefits No one Moves here for soccer. For softball. This is a generator of funds. A return on investment on the south side park is unheard of. It will bring money here. Will it break even. No. It will though for youth. It Is for beds in hotels. Lots of benefits. Narrowing it down to a P and L is not the way of looking at this. We can put our community on the map.

Carolyn CampbellEl tour brings people, people moving here, el Grupo. Concerned there is no matching funds. Can’t support it. Recommended it be deleted from the Bond.

Wexler. Wants to expand on meeting about land he has in Marana. Asked if the proponents would be OK with Marana as a location.

Chairman noter that one speaker in favor of did not have a chance to speak

PK Steffan Ccoach with JDRF. Brings 180 people for el tour to Tucson. Great boon for Tucson. Will bring people here. We have a choice, should it be in Phoenix or tucson. Put us on the map as a destination. After all these years that we are still trying to get it shows the community support.

There was a vote to Delete this item from the bond Election proposals.

Vote to continue. 4 votes against it Carolyn Campbell (Vice Chair, District 5), Tom Dunn (Town of Marana), James Ward (Sahuarita), Michael Lund (Dist. 4).

The rest of the Board voted to stay the final vote for the next meeting to give the Proponents an opportunity to address the questions brought up at the meeting.

After the vote we milled around and chatted in small groups before deciding to gather and discuss the next steps. We received some of the history of locations and what the challenges are.

Following the meeting the group in support met outside to discuss what the next step is. Don Melhado, said I should be the point man for this.

Richard DeBernardis, Don Melhado, Jon Roberts and Joey Luliano are working on the issues relating to the location and creating an operating agreement with the county. . I’ll be heading up the efforts to get more letters to the committee and funding as well as media and communications.

Damion Alexander as Bike Pilgrim

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