Velodrome back in spotlight

Cyclists and other sport clubs who make use of the Bellville Velodrome face an uncertain future.
Sports clubs leasing space at the Bellville Velodrome an Athletics Stadium face an uncertain future ahead of a public participation meeting to consider plans for the arena.

Since 1997, the City-owned Velodrome has hosted a number of music concerts and other big events, but more recently it has been home to 16 sports clubs.

In 2009 a public tender was awarded to Devmark Property Group, a Bellville-based property developer.

However, according to Ward 70 councillor Andrea Crous, several issues including disagreements over costs and upgrades for surrounding roads as part of a proposed construction project, had stopped any sort of development.

Ms Crous said the agreement Devmark signed in 2009 was a 30-year lease and that the public participation meeting scheduled for Thursday July 25 at the Velodrome was simply following the processes of a law passed in 2008.

“The MATR (Municipal Asset Transfer Regulation of 2008) dictates that before any public property is sold or leased, there must be a public participation.

I notified the sport organisations and they asked me to set up a public meeting to get answers on the future of sport at the Velodrome and the athletics stadium.”

After the meeting, the public will have until Wednesday August 14 to comment.

Ms Crous said it was unclear why public participation had not happened at the right time.

But the sport clubs are still uncertain of their futures and have been for a long time.

Abdul Davids, who is chairman of both the Bellville Cycling Club and Velodrome’s facility management committee, said: “Currently, the cycling club has a lease till 2023, but tomorrow we might pitch up there and be told that we are locked out.” 

Mr Davids added that since 2009, there had been several meetings about the development of the Velodrome, but felt excluded from the decision-making process.

“As far as we are concerned, we have not been consulted at all and the due process has not been followed at all. Recently, we do not even get notifications of any meetings with the council, we will just hear that a meeting took place.” 

The Bellville Athletics Club’s chairman, Morris Kaplan, echoed Mr Davids’s sentiments.  

“We have been asking for clarity for a long time, but nothing has come to fruition while the public participation was non-existent.” 

Mr Kaplan said the current lease agreement was “extremely vague in terms of how much access the clubs will have to facilities in the future or even how the facilities will be used”.

He added: “At the moment, it says there will be reasonable access for all sports clubs, but the issue with that is what constitutes reasonable and who is to say it will suit the needs of all the people involved?

“Our concerns are not only for the athletics club but also for all of the clubs and for the future generation.” 

Mr Kaplan said the Velodrome track had suffered 10 years of neglect, and three years ago, it had become too dangerous for schools to host their inter-school meetings. 

“The responsibility of maintaining the track has been passed on to the developer and nothing has happened in terms of any upgrades.”

Mr Davids said 300 to 400 cyclists used the Velodrome’s facilities and the building’s future was important to many.
“It is a landmark and a piece of Cape Town’s history. I mean it was built as part of Cape Town’s Olympic bid in the 1990s. If they take it away, it will be like taking a piece of Cape Town away.”