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Velodrome could be an asset to Philadelphia-hosted Olympics

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 22 2013 05:31:25 PM CST

Velodrome an Olympic site?

TREXLERTOWN, Pa. -

Seven years ago Philadelphia was among five US cities seeking to qualify to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, but it failed to make it to the medal round.   The US Olympic Committee wants to know if the city is ready to get back in the game. 

At the Olympic games the track cycling event is usually held in arenas with specially banked tracks called velodromes.  And the Lehigh Valley is home to a world class velodrome that's no stranger to Olympic level competition.  The Valley Preferred Cycling Center has one of the fastest tracks in the world and says they would welcome the 2024 Summer Games.

Hosting the Olympics requires a budget of more than $3-billion, not including construction and infrastructure.  That's a huge reason officials hope the Valley Preferred Cycling Center will be considered if Philly ends up in the running for the 2024 Olympics.

"We're used to putting on big large events," explained Valley Preferred Cycling Center Executive Director Marty Nothstein.  "I do think everyone would be best served if we would just utilize the venue we have right here."

Most Olympic host cities will build a brand new arena for the sport of track cycling, but Nothstein says it comes at a steep price.

"A new velodrome built from the ground up is going to cost anywhere from $20 to $50-million."

Even more reason to make use of what we have here in the Lehigh Valley.  The 333-meter velodrome is the only world class cycling arena within 400 miles of the city of brotherly love.

"I think other venues here in the Lehigh Valley could benefit from such a bid," added Nothstein.

But he says in 11 years the Valley Preferred Cycling Center will need some upgrades to handle the athletes and the crowds that come with the Olympics.

"I definitely think we'd have to add some spectator seating, we'd also probably have to do something with covering the venue and putting a roof over it just in case we get some rainy weather," shared Nothstein.  "And then also you know the track surface its self."

The International Olympic Committee has the final say in where the games are held.  The US hasn't hosted the Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 2006.