Sports enthusiasts say they are left with more questions than answers about the future of the Bellville Velodrome – home to 16 sports codes – following a public participation meeting there last Wednesday.
The City of Cape Town put the vacant land surrounding the arena up for lease with the new holders of the lease also responsible for the maintenance of the Velodrome.
In 2009, the City signed a 30-year lease for the Velodrome with property developers Devmet (now Devmark), which planned to build the Galleria shopping mall on the property.
But issues over parking, sewerage and access from the N1 stopped construction plans.
During this time, the athletic grounds were neglected.
Deon Werthein, the head of Western Province School Athletics, said: “The City says that these grounds are underutilised and rundown, but we practice here every day, so how can it be underutilised? Then because it is underutilised, they do not take proper care of it and we are left with a track in dire state.
This is not right as this track is the birthplace for many children’s dreams of becoming athletes and following in the footsteps of Wayde van Niekerk and Antonio Alkana. The City are the ones that allowed this track to degenerate and now they are trying to lay blame on Devmark.”
Those at the meeting echoed Mr Werthein’s views, with many asking what would happen to their sports clubs.
Cycling enthusiasts showed their support alongside the other sports codes by waving bicycle tyres in the are during the speeches.
Mike Bradley, general manager of Cycling South Africa, said: “Since 2010, we were told that this place will be closed down, and since then, we were unable to host any international events. This is a huge blow for us as the Velodrome was built as the premium indoor cycling venue in the country.
For the last few years, we have just been coasting along and waiting to get answers, but we get nothing. We need details.”
Devmark is still locked in a court battle over costs surrounding the leasing of the property.
In a statement, the company said: “Devmark has concluded an agreement of sale and a lease agreement with the City in respect of the land concerned. Development of the land has been delayed for a number of reasons including the belated imposition of a condition requiring payment of R25 million, at the behest of councillor Andrea Crous, which culminated in court proceedings between Devmark and the City.
While the court proceedings have not been concluded, Devmark has every reason to believe that it will be possible to settle the matter with the City on the basis of the latter dispensing with that condition.”
Ms Crous confirmed that Devmark had been instructed to pay R25 million, but she declined to say more than that because of the ongoing court case.
While Devmark and the City continue their court battle, the sports bodies are worried about the future of the Velodrome, and they’re upset that the public participation process only took place last week when it should have taken place in 2008.
According to the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations of 2008, a public participation meeting must be held before any municipal property is leased or sold to a private party.