Velodrome expected to open in January

Building going up on Neville Island

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Bob Gottlieb doesn't think he will lack for business at the velodrome he plans to open in January on Neville Island.

The $4.5 million indoor bicycle track, to be called Island 200, will offer cycling races, winter training and recreation facilities and space for trade shows and concerts.

Pittsburgh, like much of the nation, is in the midst of a cycling revival, Mr. Gottlieb said. All levels of government are encouraging rails-to-trails biking and hiking paths, he said. Pedal Pittsburgh drew almost 3,000 riders to explore city neighborhoods last month as part of an annual Bike Fest. Local cyclists, commenting on Facebook and other social-media sites, have praised the velodrome project.

The steel frame of the building is going up at 5603 Grand Ave., just east of the Interstate 79 bridge over Neville Island. Plans call for a 200-meter oval track with steeply banked corners. The riding surface will be wood covered with a textured plastic laminate. The velodrome will have seating for about 2,000 spectators -- 1,500 in grandstands and 500 in the infield.

Work is about 20 percent complete, and Mr. Gottlieb is shooting for a soft opening in December. An adjoining structure is being renovated to serve as concession stands, dressing rooms and a bike rental shop.

He described the velodrome as a multi-purpose building. Its stage and motion-controlled lighting system will allow it to be used for concerts, trade shows and corporate celebrations, he said.

"There will be a reason for everyone to come down to Island 200 at some point during the year," he said. "The velodrome will be a significant addition to the entertainment landscape."

Neville Island already is home to Robert Morris University's Island Sports Center, a bowling alley and a roller-skating rink. The sports center's offerings include ice skating, hockey, miniature golf and an indoor driving range.

"Having an indoor velodrome will be a great thing for cycling in Pittsburgh," said Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh. His organization is a nonprofit group that supports programs to make the region safe, accessible and friendly to cyclists.

"In the middle of winter, when you can't go for a road ride, you'll be able to head to the island and bike year round," Mr. Bricker said.

Mr. Gottlieb has been a long-time bicycle enthusiast. He is past president of the Allegheny Cycling Association and a veteran bike racer.

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Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159.


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