West Midlands MEP James Carver is urging people to sign a petition calling for an indoor velodrome to be built in the region in time for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 and to be a lasting legacy.
Around 4,800 enthusiasts have already signed the change.org petition and organisers hope to smash the 5,000 target as pressure mounts for modern cycling facilities, which could cost an estimated £16 million.
Mr Carver said: “What is being asked for is a modest building with a 200m or 250m track and 500-800 seats. It would be an ideal training facility for those preparing to race in London’s world class 6,000-seater competition velodrome during the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“It’s unfair that a region the size of the West Midlands has such poor facilities compared with other parts of the country.
“If you want your children to experience the thrill of riding an indoor velodrome with 42-degree banking, then a trip to Derby or Newport is required.
“They are many cycling clubs in the region and a few high-profile champions like Hugh Porter, Jess Varnish and Andy Tennant have been spawned, but it is crucial that cyclists of the future have access to modern indoor facilities, so they can practice throughout the year whatever the weather.”
After meeting with Halesowen Athletic and Cycling Club chairman David Viner, Mr Carver, an independent Euro MP, said there was a convincing case for a velodrome, both in terms of usage and financially.
Mr Viner has been campaigning for a modern facility since last July, acknowledging that the outdoor banked tracks at his club and Aldersley, whist still valued as grassroots venues, need the lifeline a modern velodrome would provide.
Mr Carver added: “The budget for the Commonwealth Games is around £700 million with the government providing 75 per cent.
“British Cycling has some £15 million of funding available for cycling facilities within the UK, and it’s worth noting the organisation’s main sponsor is Birmingham-based HSBC. We also have the West Midlands Combined Authority which has access to various funding streams.
“There is no doubt a velodrome would be well used and attract good revenue. It is anticipated that Birmingham University would make use of one, and they are built for multiple sports use – with the track centre suitable for boxing, table tennis, five-a-side football, badminton and judo for example.
“The Manchester velodrome is the single key reason why Britain is now so well respected on the world cycling stage. I fear we are losing potential champions in the West Midlands because they don’t have the training facilities to reach that level.
“The Manchester venue is working beyond capacity – 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Female and disabled cycling has grown as a result, and yet Birmingham – England’s second city – doesn’t even have a single banked track, let along a modern indoor velodrome.
“I hope we can put that right and the petition is an excellent way of demonstrating the strength of feeing to add pressure to the sound business case for the building of an indoor velodrome; a safe place for cycling enthusiasts from beginners to elite riders, opening up the sport to all, not just the wealthy and those with time to travel to venues outside the region.
“It would be a truly inclusive community and multi- sports facility, encouraging fitness and well-being – what better legacy could we derive from the Commonwealth Games?”