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Velodrome Likely Closed Due To Backbreaking Insurance Costs

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 18, 2016 6:40PM

Facebook / South Chicago Velodrome Association

Chicago may well have just lost one of its cycling crown jewels. This past weekend appears to have been the last chance cyclists had to ride the South Chicago Velodrome, the city's only banked bicycle racing track.

The South Chicago Velodrome—which hosted races, clinics and training seminars at the track—was ultimately done in by exorbitant insurance rates, according to Marcus Moore, the bike mechanic who has fought since last year to keep the track afloat.

The land lease provided by landowners U.S. Steel expired on Sunday at midnight; and the owner did not present a final option to the South Chicago Velodrome Association until the Friday afternoon before, Moore told Chicagoist. The proposal would extend the lease only until Oct. 31, and it still required a $15 million insurance umbrella cost. Industry standard for such a project ranges between 1-5 million dollars, according to Moore. But “the US Steel liability department insisted on keeping the $15 million level,” he said.

U.S. Steel did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Compounding the issue is the fact that the velodrome still owes payments for the track itself, to the manufacturing company V-Worldwide. Moore estimates that only $39,000 has been paid on the approximately $100,000 bill.

Moore says the possibility of working something out with U.S. Steel is “less than 10 percent.” But he holds out small hope that his counterproposal could sustain the track in some fashion. Moore is asking for a nonprofit donation and hopes to be introduced to the brokers who will negotiate the land sale.

The velodrome previously floated the idea that perhaps the Chicago Park District might be interested in hosting a space for the portable track. But as of their most recent talks, the organization “really wasn’t interested,” Moore told Chicagoist.

“I can’t lead the effort [to save the velodrome] long term, but I still hope to preserve it long enough so the community can take over.”