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Demolition for Chris Hoy's first velodrome

THE VELODROME where cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy honed his skills before becoming Britain's most successful Olympian is to be demolished.

SORRY FATE: The velodrome where Sir Chris Hoy learned his trade will be torn down and the land sold off.
SORRY FATE: The velodrome where Sir Chris Hoy learned his trade will be torn down and the land sold off.

The Meadowbank velodrome is to be knocked down and its ground sold off to fund a revamp of the crumbling Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh.

Designs for three different options to replace the London Road stadium were revealed for the first time yesterday in a new £60,000 consultancy report commissioned by Edinburgh City Council.

All three proposals, ranging in cost from £35 million to £85m, would require selling off the site's eastern wedge, which includes the outdoor cycling track where Hoy first started as a junior.

Plans that include building separate ten-court and five-court halls, a dedicated gymnastics space, fitness suite, multi-lane running straight and an indoor five-a-side pitch as a minimum, have been widely welcomed by sporting groups. But Brian Annable, Edinburgh's most experienced track cycling coach, who once trained Hoy, condemned the planned demise of the velodrome, describing the facility's loss as a great pity for the capital.

Mr Annable, who received an OBE for services to cycling earlier this year, lamented the £10,000 which was spent on the ageing track this year to keep it fit for competition and training.

He said: "The track does have historical importance to me. Chris Hoy started with me as a schoolboy there, but it's not just Chris --we've had a number of Olympians and many world and European champions that have trained there. It is a great pity."

Hoy, a six-time Olympic gold medallist, called for the velodrome to be preserved in September last year.

The council is planning to build a replacement outdoor cycling track at the Jack Kane Sports Centre in Craigmillar. Design plans are expected to be finalised by March. City chiefs are intent the project is completed soon after next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Richard Lewis, city culture and sport convener, said: "We do have to take a national look at this. Chris Hoy was training when he was young and having to go down to Manchester to use an international-class indoor facility.

"Now we've seen the emergence of his eponymous velodrome in Glasgow, people can go the 40 miles from Edinburgh to that."

Meadowbank Stadium was originally built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games and has been labelled no longer fit for use by city officials. The existing stadium would be demolished as part of any redevelopment. Refurbishing the existing building has been ruled out.

The most expensive design option, costing £85.2m, would involve building an indoor 200m velodrome, four enclosed tennis courts and a 10,000-seater stadium. Councillor Lewis, however, has said that plan will be ruled out as financially unfeasible.

The two other designs would cost £35.1m and £41m respectively. Both options include retaining the existing outdoor 400m running track and the newly built outdoor football pitch, as well as new squash courts, changing rooms and five upper-floor studios. The larger sports hall would have seating for 2500 people, while the smaller would have a 650-seat capacity. A stand next to the outdoor athletics track would accommodate 500 people.

Councillor Lewis said the more compact training centre would be built on vacant land at the site, meaning the revamp would not result in a period where people where left without any facility.

He said: "That was one of the fears for Edinburgh Leisure, with half a million people using that facility. What's good about this is there is no need for a decant - we can build and as each facility comes online we simply close the existing one."

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