One of the newest additions to the Olympic Games in London next August is coming to Rock Hill first.
The Giordana Velodrome will host the 2012 and 2013 USA Cycling International Omnium Track National Championship. An omnium is a series of races for individuals and teams, ranging from one lap to longer distances.
Set to open early next spring, the 250-meter velodrome track has a 42-degree bank and an overhead judging station. It is designed by German architect Ralph Schuermann.
The length of the track and its architect influenced USA Cycling's decision, said Andrea Smith, the organization's director of communication.
"That gives us the assurance that it will be a quality facility ,as well as speaking with the people there in Rock Hill," she said. "We want to reward those that are willing to invest in the sport of cycling. We're very excited about a new state-of-the-art facility."
USA Cycling "did their research" when it came to selecting to the Giordana Velodrome, said Thad Fischer, cycling coordinator for the center.
Fisher said USA Cycling visited the center. "They have an understanding of what Rock Hill is doing, and they have an understanding of the successes Rock Hill has had with venues like the tennis center, Cherry Park and Manchester Meadows," he said.
The velodrome is part of the $4 million Rock Hill Outdoor Center, which has 250 acres of trails, a mountain bike course, a road bike track and BMX/Supercross and Cyclocross tracks.
Fischer has 35 years of experience in cycling, including professional team management and event promotion. He is certified by the International Cycling Union and the USA Cycling Federation.
Attracting such a world-class event already is a great opportunity for the city to get some hyper-visibility and an opportunity for residents to see world-class athletes, Fisher said.
Fischer said they will capitalize on the event by building another event around it and involving schools who can use the Olympic athletes as mentors.
Mark Sexton, tourism and administrative supervisor for the city's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, said the department knew all along the velodrome would be able to attract events such as this. Cherry Park has hosted national softball tournaments multiple times, and next year Manchester Meadows will host the 2012 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.
All the pieces - the research, talking with other people in the same fields, bringing in key staff - has come together, he said.
Officials do not have a estimate of the race's economic impact, but they expect about 500 people to come. That number does not include the anticipated spectators.
In the past, city officials have estimated the center itself will generate about $4 million in economic impact each year.
"It's already setting the bar high," Sexton said. "It's definitely not something we're going to stop at. This venue, all the venues out there, have generated a ton of excitement. When it opens, you'll see people riding on it, weekday races, weekly race series ... from the recreational rider to Olympic-style athletes."