It’s been four years since the announcement of plans for a new velodrome and bicycle center in northeast Minneapolis:
It was an ambitious project, even for one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the nation, but it sure sounded cool.
Fast-forward to today. The project remains a vision, but one that a dedicated group of individuals hope to see through to fruition. Jason Lardy, president of the Minnesota Cycling Center, is one of those people.
Between community engagement, fundraising, site development and lobbying, the marketing guru and lover-of-all-things cycling is committed to a project that has been anything but an easy sell. And, with the Blaine Velodrome at the National Sports Center expected to be razed in 2019, the urgency of the project is even greater today.
The “closure certainly gives us incentive to keep the Minnesota Cycling Center efforts going strong. Our current goal for funding and construction completion targets a grand opening in April of 2020, which would avoid any gap in track cycling seasons,” Lardy explained in a recent email.
The push for the Cycling Center is going into high gear, with hopes of securing a site yet this fall. Organizers have been working with Minneapolis Community Planning & Economic Development, in order to identify and secure the property.
The preferred location remains the historic Shoreham Yards roundhouse in northeast Minneapolis, which the city has targeted for redevelopment for years. The 130-year-old roundhouse sits on a site that would require significant environmental remediation prior to any revitalization.
The next step in order to make the Cycling Center a reality would be to secure pre-design funding from the state in the next bonding bill. This may prove a difficult task in the current political climate.
But, even if successful, the project will require millions in additional funding before cyclists are zipping around a new velodrome at more than 40 mph. To do that the Cycling Center will continue to solicit corporate sponsors, grants and private gifts.
Last month the organization hosted the Taste of Northeast gala, which not only allows it to raise a few bucks, but also to connect with the community about the project and share the positive work that is already underway.
Through its ABCs – the Science of Cycling after school STEM program – the Minnesota Cycling Center is able to “create unique STEM experiments that connect directly with bikes and cycling.” The program focuses on 4-8th grades and simultaneously gets kids interested in both cycling and science, by using the bicycle to demonstrate forces such as inertia and momentum.
Lardy is quick to point out that, when completed, the center will not only be a venue for cyclists, but rather a community destination. “With our concert and event capability, retail partners and educational spaces,” Lardy wrote, “we look forward to hosting neighborhood and regional events that make the MN Cycling Center popular all day, every day.”
You can learn more about the Cycling Center here. And, if you’d like to help out there are many ways to do so, including donating directly, giving through Amazon Smile, or participating in Give To The Max Day on November 16.