Cycling community's contribution 'significant'

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014

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The cycling community played a "significant role" in funding the Home of Cycling but Avantidrome boss Geoff Balme is unable to say exactly what it was.

The Avantidrome boss was responding to criticism over his request in a submission to Waipa District Council's Draft Annual Plan for another $2 million for the facility located next to St Peter's School outside Cambridge.

One letter writer to the Times, Colin Vincent, suggested if more money was to be spent on the Avantidrome, the cycling community itself should be approached.

While cyclists have done some fundraising, Russell Mudgway, president of one of the largest clubs in the Waikato, Te Awamutu Sports cycling club, acknowledged there was no direct request for funding from members.

Balme said there was no way of telling how much the cycling community provided.

"It is not possible to provide you with a figure on how much was raised by the cycling community," he said.

Around 50 per cent of funding for the Avantidrome came from gaming and community trusts and corporate sponsorship, and the cycling community was crucial in that, he said.

"Cycling clubs do not represent the cycling community as only less than 5 per cent of cyclists actually belong to clubs," he said.

"The cycling community has played a very significant role in our fundraising and the whole project."

Funding for the $28.5m project included $7m from the Government, $6m from the Waikato Regional Council and $1m from Waipa District Council.

That community rallied around the Avantidrome after the criticism of Balme's submission but Hamilton cyclist Philip Burton hit back and said he would gladly see his money going towards the facility.

"As well as paying at the door to use it, they are also paying as part of their rates contribution and their central government taxes," said Burton.

He rides with a group of friends at a regular mid-week session and said it was one of the only elite venues to cater for the community.

"If you look at Waikato Stadium or Claudelands event centre, they are specifically event facilities, they are not community facilities."

There was a "significant gap" in the region's cycling infrastructure before the velodrome and the number of users made it hard to secure a spot.

It costs $15 for an hour including bike and helmet hire and space is limited on the weekly booking calendar.

"It's actually quite difficult to get space now, not because you are competing against events but because you are competing against community users."

Mudgway sympathised with opponents, but wanted Stage 2 to go ahead.

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"For me I don't see it as much of an issue but I can see from a public perspective: ‘Oh, no. This is more money. Why wasn't it thought about at the project's inception?'."

Mudgway said there was no request for direct funding from his 200 members but clubs around the region volunteered, joined the Back the Track campaign, took on Cadence Club memberships and made donations.

"We had a race where we put a donation box on the counter for them and everybody put in and that's what we used to buy boards for the track," said Mudgway.

Home of Cycling deputy chairman Rob Waddell said Stage 2 was a result of huge demand and insisted the submission was given to council as a "discussion point" for future needs.

"It was highlighted at the submission that while it was in the 2014/15 annual plan, that we were in the early stages of planning and would come back with further information," he said.

Community groups were "queuing up" to use the velodrome and interest in international events was "over and beyond what was originally expected and would result in further economic benefit to the region", Waddell said.

- Waikato Times

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