COST EFFECTIVE: Class 1 velodrome can be built within government budget
AT least some inspiration from the construction of Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, Switzerland will guide the project for Malaysia's impending UCI Class 1 indoor velodrome.This comes after an eye-opening joint visit to the Guangzhou Velodrome, attended by officials from the Sports Ministry, Public Works Department (JKR) and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).
Matching the splendour of the Guangzhou facility which hosted the 2010 Asian Games and cost in excess of RM250 million to construct, would be beyond the government's allocation of RM50 million for the project.
But a subsequent visit arranged by the MNCF to the Tseung Kwan O Velodrome, which is under construction in the Sai Kung Disctrict in Hong Kong, brought about the Swiss connection that could be utilised for the Malaysian project.
"The Hong Kong facility is an even greater project with a budget of HKD$1.1 billion (RM432 million). So we shouldn't be looking at matching those projects," said MNCF deputy president Datuk Naim Mohamad.
He said a meeting with renowned German velodrome builder Walter Von Leutcken, who is undertaking the construction of the track at the Tseung Kwan O Velodrome, has identified a possible route in which the Malaysian velodrome could go.
"Our main priority is to have our own Class 1 indoor velodrome. And that means the track has to meet the standard and it has to be covered, offering seating for between 2,500 and 3,000 spectators," said Naim.
"According to Von Leutcken, the track itself costs E1.5 million (RM6.1 million) and this has been done at the velodrome in Switzerland, which is certified by the UCI (International Cycling Union) as a Class 1 velodrome."
UCI regulations require World Championships, World Cup legs and Olympics to be held in indoor velodromes that have a 250 metre timber track.
"If we stick to the priorities and get the right people to do it, this can be done very swiftly with the budget available, if there are no issues with land acquisition," said Naim.
"Von Leutcken is involved in the construction of the Velodrome Suisse, which cost SF15 million (RM49.3 million) and it is recognised as a Class 1 velodrome, sufficient to hold world class events and for use in training and development.
"It is all the extras that hike up the cost, so maybe we can take a closer look at Velodrome Suisse and take after them."
Velodrome Suisse is in the final phase of construction and will open by August.
It is built under what is termed by the Swiss as 'modern financing', combining fund-raising among the public with sports funding from the Canton (state) of Solothurn and the municipality of Grenchen, as well as a contribution of SF2 million each from the Swiss cycling federation and Andy Rihs, who chairs the project's board of trustees.
Ironically, a similar campaign was conducted in Malaysia in 1986 for the construction of the country's first velodrome, the Velodrom Rakyat in Ipoh.