One of city's first sports venues still pedaling

Driving by the intersection of Hillcrest Road and Ohio Drive, motorists will pass a stadium-like structure with the word "Superdrome" displayed across the entrance.

This structure does not host well-known Frisco sports such as soccer or baseball. Rather, it is one of only two velodromes in Texas (the other is in Houston) and one of several in the country.

The Superdrome is a bicycle racetrack with steep banks and a wooden surface.

Tim Goodwin, Superdrome Management Group manager, has advocated for the velodrome to keep it in Frisco.

"In Frisco, it was one of the first sports complexes out there besides high school facilities," he said.

The Superdrome came to Frisco after the city, Collin College and Electronic Data Systems—a technology company now owned by Hewlett-Packard Co.—entered into a joint venture to bring a new sports facility to the area.

It opened in 1998 on Collin College's Preston Ridge campus. One year later, EDS withdrew its support of the facility, Frisco Recreation Facilities manager

Steve Walsh said. At that point, the city took control of the facility and evaluated what it should be used for.

Goodwin, with a group of volunteers, offered to take over facility operations. As a result, the SMG, a volunteer group, took over running the track in 2003.

The SMG renegotiates its contract every three years with the city, Walsh said. The volunteer group's current contract expires this December.

The city still owns the velodrome, and Collin College owns the land. The city helps fund the maintenance of the facility through its annual special revenue fund budget. The fund balance is a result of a buyout from EDS to be released from the original partnership, according to the city's budget.

A major maintenance cost the fund helps pay for is replacing the lumber on the track every few years, Assistant City Manager Nell Lange said. Goodwin said with the track being open to the elements, the wood gets weathered and warped over time. The SMG is looking to replace the lumber again in 2015, Goodwin said.

Goodwin said the track has faced a number of obstacles throughout the years, one being Collin College considering replacing the facility with a parking garage in 2011.

Another ongoing challenge is finding donors to help fund any expenses that go beyond what the designated funds can pay for, Goodwin said.

But Goodwin said keeping the Superdrome is worth it. Throughout the years, it has hosted five national championships and developed cycling programs. He said the youth programs are a substantial part of the velodrome.

"The reason I do what I do is the kids," Goodwin said. "If you got down into the trenches with us and you saw the kids from where they were and where their personalities were when they came to us to how they grow into a young adult, it's mesmerizing."

Robert Sandusky, a student at Wakeland High School, said he has been riding at the Superdrome for about four years.

"It's really fun with the curved banks," he said. "There's big downhills, so if you go up top, it's almost like a roller coaster picking up speed as you drop in."

Walsh said the city wants to keep the Superdrome in operation and use it to its full capabilities.

"I think the city of Frisco has embraced the industry of sports tourism, and the Superdrome was one of the first venues that paved the way for the city to embrace that," he said.

Inside the Superdrome

The Superdrome in Frisco is open to the public. New riders must take a development class and only use bicycles designed for the track. Cycling programs are also available.

The track is used for open riding, classes and races.

Open ride hours: 6–8 p.m. Mondays, 8 a.m.–noon Saturdays,

9 a.m.–noon Sundays

Open ride costs: $5 per day, $100 for a one-year pass

Track facts:

  • The track is a 250-meter oval that is 7 meters wide.

  • It has a 44-degree incline on the corners and a 13-degree incline on the straight sections.

  • The wooden track is a resin-coated marine plywood that is 1.125 inches thick and welded to a steel structure.

  • Riders must use track bikes, which are designed to not coast. Riders must constantly pedal in order to keep the bikes moving. Track bikes are available to rent for $5 per day.