Rock Hill is contemplating the creation of a bike park located near the Catawba River according to the Herald online. The proposed park would include a BMX park, cyclocross course, road bike loop and mountain bike trails with the centerpiece of the facility a four-million dollar velodrome.
The idea for only a velodrome was proposed over five years ago, but recently city leaders were impressed with the possible inclusion of holding Olympic trials and national cycling championships in the area which would require the other types of cycling venues.
“We could have a national championship for each one of those venues every year, on a rolling basis,” said co-organizer Spencer Lueders.
Steve Johnson, chief executive of USA Cycling, visited Rock Hill last fall and confirmed that the velodrome and surrounding venues could host national championship caliber races.
The park would be subsidized by a combination of public and private funds with the city committing to three-million dollars from hospitality taxes and money from a special tax district.
There has been some concern that the park, known as the Cycling and Outdoor Center of the Carolinas, would not cater to local residents with the sole focus being on out-of-state visitors.
“It’s very important for the general public to understand, yes, these are elite facilities,” replied Mayor Doug Echols. “But every one will be open to all our citizens to use in some form or fashion.”
The project would not only include cycling facilities but housing, shopping, hotel, YMCA and an office park. However the question remains is in these tight economic times would businesses be attracted to the facility? City Manager Carey Smith is optimistic that merchants would indeed fill the shopping area.
“When they believe something is going to happen, then they will sign on,” Smith said. “That gives them an extremely powerful, persuasive marketing tool.”
Construction on the Cycling and Outdoor Center of the Carolinas could start in 2011 if it receives the financial approval necessary, and the cycling venues could open in 2012.
The UCI recently awarded the elite cyclocross world championships to Louisville, Kentucky for 2013 and Masters world cyclocross championships for 2012 and 2013. If the Cycling and Outdoor Center of the Carolinas were to open in 2012, perhaps the proposed cyclocross course could be part of a series of pre-world cyclocross races? Cyclocross fan’s feverish devotion to this winter sport would undoubtedly attract visitors not only from here in the States, but from around the world.