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Is track racing dying out in the US?

Old 10-08-19, 11:35 AM
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chas58
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Is track racing dying out in the US?

There seems to be a lot of tracks closing in the US recently. Whats up with that?

Now, looks like Boulder Valley will close down.
https://www.velonews.com/2019/10/new...shutter_501459


Some recent closures:
Blaine, MN (2019)
Boulder, Co (scheduled to close end of 2019)
South Chicago, Il (2016)
Fisco (Dallas) TX (deconstructed 2018)

Alpenrose Portland - questionable?
https://www.bicycling.com/culture/a2...regon-cycling/
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Old 10-08-19, 11:42 AM
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There was an effort to get one built here in Sacramento, but it seems to have stalled out. We have to drive to Hellyer in San Jose, which is 2.5-3hrs away.
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Old 10-08-19, 11:49 AM
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A lot of these places are/were field of dreams projects, but the reality is "if you build it they will come" just isn't happening. You need the big push at the front and you need to keep that wave from breaking, basically indefinitely.

As being part of a project for East TN... it's a daunting process when you see so many places failing.
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Old 10-08-19, 12:25 PM
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I think the key to success at The Jerry Baker Velodrome is that it is a mixed use facility. It is used year round for many different things.
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Old 10-08-19, 04:28 PM
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Track is dying everywhere, not just the US. Sports participation in general is dying out from a combination of busy parents/people, cotton wool parenting, technology and costs. I've been involved in a number of sports between myself and my 2 children, and comparing to maybe 20 years ago, across the board numbers are down for everything.

Multi use facilities are definitely the way to go. We have a lot of tracks built in Australia of the flat track type around a cricket ground. In general, they are surviving, but only just. Lots of purpose built velodromes are gone here in Australia too, mostly due to lack of use. They stop being used, then not maintained and then just become white elephants, too expensive to even demolish. But compared to the US, we still have a lot of velodromes around. We are even getting a number of new velos built as part of multi discipline bike park style facilities.
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Old 10-08-19, 06:21 PM
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No.
Track racing isn't dying.
Tracks are dying, and that death is taking track racing with it.

They're not dying because of a lack of thriving racing community. Each of those places is leaving a healthy racing community gutted.

Successful tracks are on public lands, in public parks, managed via public-private partnerships.

Dying tracks are located on private lands, when an owner decides it's done with track racing - regardless of the community's health, wants, or needs.
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Old 10-08-19, 06:21 PM
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Move to Japan! We're doing pretty well over here with a new impetus to build indoor 250's and amateurs going faster and faster. Grieving for the losses in the US. Things are just tough there in so many ways right now.
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Old 10-09-19, 02:26 AM
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Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
Track is dying everywhere, not just the US. Sports participation in general is dying out from a combination of busy parents/people, cotton wool parenting, technology and costs. I've been involved in a number of sports between myself and my 2 children, and comparing to maybe 20 years ago, across the board numbers are down for everything.

Multi use facilities are definitely the way to go. We have a lot of tracks built in Australia of the flat track type around a cricket ground. In general, they are surviving, but only just. Lots of purpose built velodromes are gone here in Australia too, mostly due to lack of use. They stop being used, then not maintained and then just become white elephants, too expensive to even demolish. But compared to the US, we still have a lot of velodromes around. We are even getting a number of new velos built as part of multi discipline bike park style facilities.
I agree with a lot of this.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the fact that all sports seem to be less popular. There is no one smoking gun. Ask a dozen families with children and ask them why don't they participate in sport, and you'll get a dozen reasons.

Traditional sports still exist (obviously), but now they are ultra competitive...even at the earliest levels. This also drives casual players and families away.

What's more, cycling is a fringe sport compared to mainstream sports. And track cycling is on the fringe of that fringe.
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Old 10-09-19, 08:18 AM
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Iím lucky living in Detroit. We have 2 tracks (plus a 3rd cement track Iím doing a cyclocross race on this Saturday, lol).

Our indoor track seems to be thriving (although cash flow is always an issue). It:
- Has a good cash grant to get started, and strong core team
- Good network of dedicated volunteers
- Mixed use (rentable for corporate functions, used for local athletic events (around outside of the track, but in the dome)).
- Tracks on public land with support of local government (for all 3 of our tracks).
- In the heart of the booming hipster cycling scene in Detroit.
- A short track that is just fun and exciting (last weekend on of the strong kids road off the track onto the outside (vertical) wall, and back onto the track!).
- European style showmanship (lights, bar, couches, livestream TV, racer interviews, PDBS broadcasts).
- Livestream on Facebook (last weekendís races had 100,000 views!)
- Founding of a new US Track cycling league.
- Focus on youth development and sending our kids to national events.

Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
Move to Japan! We're doing pretty well over here with a new impetus to build indoor 250's and amateurs going faster and faster. Grieving for the losses in the US. Things are just tough there in so many ways right now.
Or move to Detroit - ride outside in the summer, inside in the winter!!!
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Old 10-09-19, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post

Successful tracks are on public lands, in public parks, managed via public-private partnerships.

Dying tracks are located on private lands, when an owner decides it's done with track racing - regardless of the community's health, wants, or needs.
Theres a lot of truth here. The financials on tracks arenít great.
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Old 10-09-19, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
I agree with a lot of this.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the fact that all sports seem to be less popular. There is no one smoking gun. Ask a dozen families with children and ask them why don't they participate in sport, and you'll get a dozen reasons.

Traditional sports still exist (obviously), but now they are ultra competitive...even at the earliest levels. This also drives casual players and families away.
Yeah, when I was a kid in the 80's, there was city league soccer with parent volunteer coaches that you paid like $20 a season for. Then, you had school leagues for many other sports that cost like $10 each and summer league little league and tennis (I think those got extra money from the city/sponsors as they had paid coaches) were similar.

Now, with my kids, everything seems to be trying to feed into elite and traveling teams. No, I don't want to pay $250 for my 2nd grade daughter to play on your "elite" soccer team when she's not really sure she likes it. We're trying volleyball this year, but trying to do low pressure on it (which means she gets less playing time than the teammates whose parents are getting them in private coaching sessions outside of practice, but where's the fun in that?).
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Old 10-09-19, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Theres a lot of truth here. The financials on tracks arenít great.
and we live in a society where the default assumption is that value is the final matter, and everything must pay for itself - rather than having a functional society that supports things that benefit people broadly (even if things don't have broad appeal). i mean, damn, if libraries, museums, and public schools didn't exist and you proposed them right now, you'd be laughed off of the cable news shows.

anyway, once upon a time, cities and towns built velodrome in public parks, and those are the ones that are still around (or ones that were built with private money on private land and then turned over to public stewardship).
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Old 10-09-19, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Yeah, when I was a kid in the 80's, there was city league soccer with parent volunteer coaches that you paid like $20 a season for. Then, you had school leagues for many other sports that cost like $10 each and summer league little league and tennis (I think those got extra money from the city/sponsors as they had paid coaches) were similar.

Now, with my kids, everything seems to be trying to feed into elite and traveling teams. No, I don't want to pay $250 for my 2nd grade daughter to play on your "elite" soccer team when she's not really sure she likes it. We're trying volleyball this year, but trying to do low pressure on it (which means she gets less playing time than the teammates whose parents are getting them in private coaching sessions outside of practice, but where's the fun in that?).
Yup.

A few years ago in a small/medium sized town in Georgia (an hour South of Atlanta), I witnessed tryouts for a baseball league with players being aged like 8-12. It looked like NFL combines. The coaches literally had stopwatches timing the 8 year olds as they ran bases.

I thought to myself, "This sh*t is ridiculous."

And it got more ridiculous after the kid makes the team. There is no team equipment. Not only does each kid have to have their own glove, each kid has to have his/her own helmet and bat. Then you gotta have a gear bag to haul all of that in. An the uniforms look like college uniforms with nice material and stitching and names on the back, etc...and fitted ball caps.

Then there are "travel teams" where you travel across the region during the summer and play tournaments. This means mom and/or dad have to take off Friday afternoons to drive to the next state, hotel, restaurants, entry fees, etc...

This culminates in a lot of pressure on the kid. Imagine, after all of that, wanting to tell mom and dad that you don't want to play anymore? Even if they are understanding, the kid still may feel the pressure of not wanting to quit after all of the investment.

I know this is cliche, but back in my day whoever showed up made the team. You paid $5 for a team "jersey" (which was just a colored tshirt). You were big time if your team had tshirts with numbers on the back. All we had to provide on our own was pants, cleats, and a glove. And we could wear the cap of our favorite MLB team. The team provided bats, helmets, and even the catcher's gear. And this was HS summer ball. No pressure AT ALL. I also played on my HS team during the school year for 3 years, it was a bit more regimented with tryouts and the uniforms were nicer, but still not the pressure of playing today.

I've heard friends and coworkers telling similar stories about other sports including cheerleading.

Only a very, very small percentage of these kids (say 0.01%) will even get a college scholarship much less make it to the pros, but 99.99% of them have to participate in the grind...as well as 99.99% of the parents.

Further, there are the parents who don't handle all of this well and do put a lot of pressure on the kids. It's awful. There was a documentary on Netflix called Trophy Kids that shed a lot of light on the subject.

Honestly, I'd rather a kid not participate in sport than get involved in the system above. I'm sure that "Casual" versions of these leagues exist, but I haven't run across them.
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Old 10-09-19, 03:34 PM
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On a related note, I've done a lot of analysis of MLB over the years. The result of this system is a revolving door of players that are all but disposable, thus making the idea of "going pro" not that worth it. Imagine being in the grind since age 8 until 19, going pro, and only being there for "a cup of coffee" (a few days/weeks) and never playing again.

https://medium.com/@CQH/ever-wonder-...e-8c1744e923e5

2015 saw 735 pitchers take the mound.
SEVEN HUNDRED and THIRTY FIVE.
Let that sink in for a sec.
1871: 19 Pitchers
1970: 363 Pitchers
2015: 735 Pitchers
There were 1,342 different players playing MLB in 2015, 735 (55%) of them were Pitchers.
That may explain why it’s so hard to keep up with all of the players in Major League Baseball.

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Old 10-09-19, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Yup.

A few years ago in a small/medium sized town in Georgia (an hour South of Atlanta), I witnessed tryouts for a baseball league with players being aged like 8-12. It looked like NFL combines. The coaches literally had stopwatches timing the 8 year olds as they ran bases.

I thought to myself, "This sh*t is ridiculous."

And it got more ridiculous after the kid makes the team. There is no team equipment. Not only does each kid have to have their own glove, each kid has to have his/her own helmet and bat. Then you gotta have a gear bag to haul all of that in. An the uniforms look like college uniforms with nice material and stitching and names on the back, etc...and fitted ball caps.

Then there are "travel teams" where you travel across the region during the summer and play tournaments. This means mom and/or dad have to take off Friday afternoons to drive to the next state, hotel, restaurants, entry fees, etc...

This culminates in a lot of pressure on the kid. Imagine, after all of that, wanting to tell mom and dad that you don't want to play anymore? Even if they are understanding, the kid still may feel the pressure of not wanting to quit after all of the investment.

I know this is cliche, but back in my day whoever showed up made the team. You paid $5 for a team "jersey" (which was just a colored tshirt). You were big time if your team had tshirts with numbers on the back. All we had to provide on our own was pants, cleats, and a glove. And we could wear the cap of our favorite MLB team. The team provided bats, helmets, and even the catcher's gear. And this was HS summer ball. No pressure AT ALL. I also played on my HS team during the school year for 3 years, it was a bit more regimented with tryouts and the uniforms were nicer, but still not the pressure of playing today.

I've heard friends and coworkers telling similar stories about other sports including cheerleading.

Only a very, very small percentage of these kids (say 0.01%) will even get a college scholarship much less make it to the pros, but 99.99% of them have to participate in the grind...as well as 99.99% of the parents.

Further, there are the parents who don't handle all of this well and do put a lot of pressure on the kids. It's awful. There was a documentary on Netflix called Trophy Kids that shed a lot of light on the subject.

Honestly, I'd rather a kid not participate in sport than get involved in the system above. I'm sure that "Casual" versions of these leagues exist, but I haven't run across them.
My kid is 15 and was just getting a taste of this. He was playing "select" which is just a notch below traveling team soccer. We'd do a handful of tournaments each year, but most were within driving distance. I thought he was doing well, but when his coach (who we all loved) decided it was his last season, Lucas decided he was done with club soccer. And it didn't break my heart.

He told me instead he wanted spend the fall racing cross on my old SSCX (!). And he's loving it. And I'm loving it because the juniors and masters C's race at the same time.
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Old 10-09-19, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
and we live in a society where the default assumption is that value is the final matter, and everything must pay for itself - rather than having a functional society that supports things that benefit people broadly (even if things don't have broad appeal). i mean, damn, if libraries, museums, and public schools didn't exist and you proposed them right now, you'd be laughed off of the cable news shows.

anyway, once upon a time, cities and towns built velodrome in public parks, and those are the ones that are still around (or ones that were built with private money on private land and then turned over to public stewardship).
Totally with you on this. It astounds me that Americans think tax payer dollars are "wasted" on things like the arts. I get that the arts don't produce widgets, but how boring and terrible would the world be without art, even art that isn't commercially marketable or to my taste
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Old 10-09-19, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by tobukog View Post
Totally with you on this. It astounds me that Americans think tax payer dollars are "wasted" on things like the arts. I get that the arts don't produce widgets, but how boring and terrible would the world be without art, even art that isn't commercially marketable or to my taste
Some. Some Americans.

Sport, arts. public libraries, public parks, public schools, etc... still exist in every city in the United States.

EDIT:

Also, DLV is part of a county (or city, can't recall) public park.

Last edited by carleton; 10-09-19 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 10-09-19, 05:31 PM
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Also, letís not fool ourselves. Track cycling requires even more personal investment than the families offer in the gloomy picture of little league baseball that I paint above.

This sport has a relatively high barrier to entry compared to others on top of it not being popular. Itís a double whammy.

You know there is a problem when we have to explain what track cycling is to other competitive cyclists (BMX, road, CX, MTB). Iím sure most, if not all, of us has had to explain our sport to another cyclist who races in another genre. Thatís bad.
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Old 10-09-19, 06:01 PM
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Major Taylor has been converted to a parks and rec facility, but still survives. It does need an injection of help in the way of interested cyclists and spectators, but it can survive with a bit of help.
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Old 10-09-19, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tobukog View Post
Totally with you on this. It astounds me that Americans think tax payer dollars are "wasted" on things like the arts. I get that the arts don't produce widgets, but how boring and terrible would the world be without art, even art that isn't commercially marketable or to my taste
i mean in the occasional defense of americans, we just don't have many tax dollars once we account for a regressive tax policy and after the military industrial complex gets their hands on it
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Old 10-10-19, 09:53 AM
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There is an effort to save the BVV underway.
https://www.dailycamera.com/2019/10/...g-on-a-savior/
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Old 10-10-19, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
There seems to be a lot of tracks closing in the US recently. Whats up with that?

Now, looks like Boulder Valley will close down.
https://www.velonews.com/2019/10/new...shutter_501459


Some recent closures:
Blaine, MN (2019)
Boulder, Co (scheduled to close end of 2019)
South Chicago, Il (2016)
Fisco (Dallas) TX (deconstructed 2018)

Alpenrose Portland - questionable?
https://www.bicycling.com/culture/a2...regon-cycling/
This make me sad, this is my home velodrome. There are some guys who are trying to save it, but time is limited. The track is great and the community is amazing, but I agree if they could somehow find other uses for it, then it would have a better chance at survival.
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Old 10-10-19, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Also, letís not fool ourselves. Track cycling requires even more personal investment than the families offer in the gloomy picture of little league baseball that I paint above.

This sport has a relatively high barrier to entry compared to others on top of it not being popular. Itís a double whammy.

You know there is a problem when we have to explain what track cycling is to other competitive cyclists (BMX, road, CX, MTB). Iím sure most, if not all, of us has had to explain our sport to another cyclist who races in another genre. Thatís bad.
Don't many tracks have a youth development program? Around here we have always had free track and bike use for 18 and under. We used to drive kids from the city up to the 'burbs, but now there is a velodrome downtown its easier access for everyone. Its fun seeing kids that may not make it to a "travel" team for another sport going off to track nationals representing us - even if it is a little depressing when that kid who has been training with us suddenly goes through puberty and I can't keep up with him/her any more, lol.
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Old 10-10-19, 02:22 PM
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Yeah most tracks have a kids program, but they are usually kids from the immediate neighborhood or children of adult racers. And most of those kids drift away from the sport for one reason or another.

Itís the other kids (not in the neighborhood and not children of racers) that are not becoming interested.

There is no outreach to them.
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Old 10-10-19, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by acslater55 View Post
ÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ. if they could somehow find other uses for it, then it would have a better chance at survival.
At one time Encino had an electric model car club use the track one night a week. The money went towards track upkeep.
Also that facility is on US Army land so annual rent was very minimal
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