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Chicago Velo Campus Plan On Life Support

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 8, 2014 7:00PM

Time trials on the Chicago Velo Campus's track. (Photo credit: Edmund White)

The Chicago Velo Campus, once considered to be a foundation of the redevelopment of the old U.S. Steel campus on the South Side, may be consigned to the dustbin of good ideas that never got off the ground. The project never seemed to gain any traction beyond the outdoor velodrome racer Emanuele Bianchi and his partners built. That track for fixed gear bikes at 87th and Burley has stood out like a sore thumb on the U.S. Steel site for years.

Now even the velodrome is in danger of being dismantled as a lack of volunteers to staff qualifying races dwindled since the track was built three years ago. Another factor in the decision to scrap the velodrome: the lease on the property expired. Bianchi and Arlette Vollrath, who currently heads the Velo Campus corporation, said without a successful velodrome the proposed $40 million Velo Campus project is dead.

But there may be hope. Marcus Moore, of bike shop Yojimbo's Garage, is organizing an effort to save the velodrome, if not the Velo Campus. Ideas that have been floated include establishing the velodrome as a nonprofit entity to manage operations and programming to merging the velodrome with the in-progress Big Marsh bike project on the Far South Side.