Derby Arena: First look inside delayed velodrome

Derby Arena from outside Image copyright Gary Cadman
Image caption Derby Arena was due to open in December.

Derby's velodrome, which was due to open last month, will open in March, the city council has said.

Cyclists have been given a first look inside the 5,000-seat Arena at Pride Park to see the completed cycle track.

The £28m venue, built against a backdrop of council cuts, will host high-level cycling events, basketball and volleyball games and double as a concert venue.

Council leader Ranjit Banwait said it has put Derby "on the map".

Image caption The velodrome includes a 250m track

As well as the 250m cycle track and 12-court sports hall, there will be a gym, group exercise space and a cafe.

Mr Banwait said: "It's a superb venue. It definitely puts Derby on the map in a unique way. It's one of the few multisport velodromes in the country."

Image caption There are 5,000 seats and the city council hopes it will also host cultural events

He said the three-month delay in opening the venue was down to "getting things right".

"Projects like this are very complex and require a great deal of work.

"I know there's a great interest from people to get this open and look around. That's great - to create that bit of anticipation is not a bad thing."

Former Olympian and Commonwealth cycling champion Geoff Cooke, 70, from Long Eaton, was allowed to ride the track.

He said: "It is just fantastic, it really is. It's just a dream to ride, there isn't a squeak in any of the boards."

Bikes with one gear and no brakes will hurtle around the 250m, 42-degree track at the velodrome, which is the first of its kind in the East Midlands.

The indoor sports hall is the size of 13 badminton courts, the city council said, and the venue also includes a bike workshop, a gym, meeting rooms and a bar.

Mr Banwait defended spending £28m on the project at a time of cutbacks.

"It's a balancing act between keeping front-line services going but not losing sight that we've got to offer hope for the future," he said.

Mr Banwait said: "The future vision is we will produce our own gold medal Olympic athletes right here in Derby."

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