Bicycle racing was a popular spectator sport in New York the 19th and early 20th century, and now it seems poised for a comeback: Yesterday The National Cycling Association [NCA] unveiled its rendering for a world class velodrome inside the cavernous Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx. You'll recall that the armory was almost turned into a shopping mall in 2009, but community leaders demanded a guaranteed living wage for employees, and the developer walked away. Now the city landmark could be the site of a six day bicycle race, as early as next spring.
Yesterday NCA CEO Jack Simes announced his plan to stage the six day demo on a temporary velodrome, in hopes of winning over the community to build a permanent facility. The demo would use no city funds, and would also include a vintage bicycle museum and programs encouraging cycling for youth. According to the Daily News, the Kingsbridge Armory hosted six-day races in the 1920s and 1940s. This temporary installation would accommodate over 2,500 spectators and cost $700,000, and be built by Ralph Schuermann, designer of velodromes for the Olympic Games.
The velodrome was one of several ideas suggested by Diaz Jr. as an alternative to the mall, but he hasn't officially endorsed a permanent installation, and the city has not yet agreed to rent the armory to the NCA. But at least some community members are endorsing the idea; Barbara Stronczer, president of one local community association, called the NCA plan “exciting," telling the News, "There are a lot of unanswered questions. But cycling wouldn’t compete with existing businesses and I think it would be great for our youth."