Des Plaines seeks funding for indoor cycling arena

Des Plaines officials are exploring funding options for building an indoor velodrome, or professional cycling arena, in town, Mayor Marty Moylan said Wednesday.

Moylan said developer interest in the project is increasing. While the city doesn't plan to invest any of its own money into the project, officials have consulted with area banks about how it could be financed, he added.

Moylan estimates building a 24-hour, enclosed professional cycling arena with a 250-meter track for training and competition would cost roughly $20 million. The facility would also include space for other sporting activities such as soccer, volleyball or hockey.

“The city is not going to go out on a limb for lots of money,” Moylan said. “These projects take many, many years from idea to conception. We have some sites that we may be able to use. We are also talking to developers.”

Officials have identified three possible locations: the ACE Rent-A-Car site off Mannheim and Higgins roads; the former Littelfuse site along Northwest Highway; and land off Golf Road west of River Road and south of Holy Family Medical Center, which used to be home to a junkyard.

“We have been working with Panattoni Development. They've come up with some conceptual drawings,” Moylan said.

The Rosemont-based commercial real estate developer has done projects in Des Plaines and worldwide, he said.

Moylan believes there is much interest within the professional cycling community to see the project come to fruition.

John Vande Velde, a two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. national champion cyclist and former vice president of USA Cycling, recently met with Moylan to discuss the project. Vande Velde is credited with building the first portable velodrome in 1994.

Though there are velodromes in Northbrook, the South Side of Chicago and Kenosha, Wis., Des Plaines' envisioned arena would be unique to this area because it is indoors, Vande Velde said. The only other indoor velodrome is in Los Angeles, he added.

However, he recommends the city first test the market with a portable velodrome similar to the 166-meter arena on Chicago's South Side. A portable velodrome would cost the city roughly $200,000.

“Then you have to put a bubble over it,” Vande Velde said. “It would probably be about $1 million by the time you get done with it. It just makes sense to start small and see what we can do and see what kind of following (it gets). If Des Plaines wants to go for an Olympic-size velodrome in five or six years, then we sell this one and build a bigger one.”

City officials consulted with Vande Velde about space and site requirements, usage, and operational details.

“He is an integral part because he brings a lot of credibility to the table,” Moylan said.

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