This past weekend the family took a trip to the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, in Milton Ontario for international track competition. Proper cycling support and venues are non-existent in Ontario, let alone the Toronto area. So, seeing this venue being built and opening for the upcoming Pan Am Games in Toronto is exciting. We were enthusiastic to go see it and watch some incredible athletes compete on the planks.
Being nearly an hour out of the city, the Velodrome could be seen as 'in the middle of nowhere' but situated next to the Niagara escarpment makes sense to me. It's in the heart of a very popular and quite spectacular cycling destination. A welcome addition to the landscape. Its entrance is right off a very popular route that takes you through the Rattle Snake Point climb. A personal test to see what your legs and lungs can muster.
The velodrome itself is impressive as you drive up because it sits alone in an empty field at the base of the escarpment. Although development plans will change that view quickly and the surrounding city will surely gobble it up in the next few years. You can already see that happening with the housing development creeping near by. I believe plans are to keep the park landscape behind (west) of the venue towards the escarpment.
Inside, the track is bright, beautiful, and quite impressive. There isn't a lot of spectator seating but plenty enough for what this venue will see through the games and beyond. One thing I noticed is that rather than packing spectators in, the seating is designed around the best views rather than putting people in 'cheap seat's with obstructed views.
The centre of the track was in use for the the track events but you can see the basketball nets moved to the sides. It's apparent that they have thought about the future use and every day activity possibilities of the venue. I'm assuming it will become a multi-use sports facility which is great to ensure it stays open. I only hope these other sports don't overtake the cycling and the velodrome goes cold.
The Pan Am games don't have the largest budgets and although their is a title sponsor to the site, this is not a no expense spared venue. The room is filled with lots of light, but there could be more windows. The windows go nearly around but are limited to only ground level. There are two more stories of wall space that unfortunately are not used for windows. With the escarpment backdrop, the architects really missed the opportunity.
The interior is very open and has a modern 'exposed' vibe to the design which I like. Again, probably in line with the budget of the games and sponsorship many of the interior walls are simply painted cinder block bricks rather than finished walls. They look fine, and it's not the worst thing in the world but has a more a community developed centre feeling rather than an international venue.
Although the venue was set to official open in December, it's not yet. That's been moved to February (next month). They are running events and finishing as they go along. You can see some of the work outside on the grounds (it's very bare and a construction site) and inside in places like the bathroom floors where the drainage pipes have not been cemented in yet. A picture is below.
All in all, the venue is such a welcome addition to the cycling community in Ontario. I'm very proud to call it a national cycling centre. Having grown up near the site and cycling in the area regularly, I would never have ever dreamed of having our own velodrome there. I wish that the cycling community embrace, support and utilize this new venue so that it's not lost to another use which is an unfortunate plague of so many international games venues.