Rumours have abounded for some time now that the city of Cape Town was considering demolishing the Bellville Velodrome but a document published recently has now confirmed their intent.
In the “Draft Broader Tygervalley Urban Design Framework” the city provide details of what the plans are for the area, which indicate that the Tygervalley Precinct will be upgraded to a “secondary CBD”, including high-rise office space, shopping centres, public transport initiatives etc. A multi-storey shopping centre called “Galleria” is to built on the site of the current Velodrome – though there is no direct mention of what exactly will happen to the Velodrome.
Upon hearing the news, and after chatting with Jeanne Nell, (South Africa’s National 1km Time Trial & Keirin Track Cycling champion) Cape Town cycling enthusiast Ridaa Ismail felt strongly that the plans should not go ahead and started the Save the Drome campaign to try and give the facility and those who use it a voice.
X: What makes the Drome so valuable to the Cape Town cycling community?
R: The Velodrome is not only valuable to the Cape Town cycling community but the entire South African track cycling community. Bellville Velodrome is the only Olympic standard velodrome on the African continent and is the training base for all our Olympic and Paralympic track cyclists.
There are plans for a velodrome to be established in Potchefstroom but that will take a while to be constructed. If the Bellville Velodrome is demolished it would mean that there is no training base for our Olympic and Paralympic track cyclists training for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio Olympics. These sportsmen and women have sacrificed their lives to fulfil the dream of winning Gold, and if the Velodrome is demolished, their dream of representing South Africa on the biggest stage will be gone.
The Velodrome is not only precious to the South African cycling community but the international cycling community. Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins won his first World Title at the Velodrome. The support from the international community has been overwhelming with riders from the UK, currently the strongest track nation in the world, pledging their support for the campaign. International Cycling Union (UCI) administrators and international track stars such as multiple world champion and Olympic silver and bronze medallist Maximilian Levy (Germany) have all got behind Save the Drome.
X: How can people support your cause/actually save the Drome?
R: Being a purely social media effort so far, we urge everyone to get behind us and follow @savethedrome. If you get 10 people to follow, and they get 10 more and so on, we will get the support we desperately need to make our cause known.
We also believe that the way forward is to present the Velodrome in a sustainable light. The “Revolution” track series has been instrumental in making the UK a track cycling powerhouse. The cycling series features competitive track cycling with world track stars in attendance as well as celebs and sports stars competing at Manchester Velodrome. The nature of a velodrome means that the crowd is always a part of the action and they have the opportunity to interact with their sporting heroes and favourite celebs. The result is that Revolution regularly draws sell-out crowds.
We feel that we could easily begin something similar at the Bellville Velodrome.
We’ve been in discussion with track cycling club Track Cycling SA about establishing such a series. With the world famous Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour and the Absa Cape Epic drawing the world’s best sports stars and celebs to the Cape, the opportunity is there to establish a series similar to Revolution during the Cape’s “cycling season” and to give the public the opportunity to see their favourite sports stars and celebs up close, as well to give much needed exposure and world class competition to our track cyclists.