MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota cyclists are trying to save an aging track that’s in need of repair.
The National Sports Center Velodrome has hosted several national championships, along with the 1992 Olympic trials.
But the years have taken their toll on the outdoor track. When it first opened, engineers estimated it would last about 20 years in Minnesota’s harsh climate. That was 25 years ago.
National Sports Center spokesperson Barclay Kruse says there are several areas of decay and deterioration in the trusses.
The non-profit that runs the center is now considering whether to put the track out of commission, and perhaps tear it down.
“The National Sports Center Board cannot be running a facility where there could be safety issues,” Kruse said.
The Velodrome is Minnesota’s only spot to see track racing — a high-speed, adrenaline-filled event. Racers have no brakes, one gear and they’re flying along a steep incline.
Anna Schwinn is the great-great-granddaughter of the founder of Schwinn bikes. She has spent many hours at the Velodrome, racing and maintaining the track.
“It is a very dangerous and exciting version of cycling,” Schwinn said. “It’s one of the smoothest, nicest tracks in the U.S. as it is.”
It’s also been costly. The National Sports Center estimates it loses about $50,000 a year keeping the track open.
Schwinn is on the board of directors of the group “Friends of Velodrome Racing in Minnesota,” which is now trying to raise $60,000 to give the track at least a few more years.
“We’re willing to step up, we’re willing to contribute more and be a better citizen to the NSC community,” she said.
After a fundraiser Sunday night at Fulton Brewery, the group has pledges of about $35,000.