Derby's £28m velodrome construction begins
Work is set to start on Derby's long-awaited velodrome and sports arena.
The £28m project, funded by Sport England and Derby City Council, will include a gym and a 12-court sports hall as well as a 250m cycling track.
Labour councillors were initially opposed to the project because of concerns over expense.
However, Labour's Martin Repton said: "There are only three or four places in Britain with this kind of facility."
Mr Repton, who is the cabinet member for leisure and culture on the council, added: "It will provide a much-needed facility.
"We have leisure facilities in the city that are 40 or 50 years old and are no longer fit for purpose.
"We faced the choice of either updating those or investing in some new facilities."Concert venue
The project forms part of Derby's £54m leisure plans for the city, which include the construction of a 50m pool next to the Riverlights complex, due to open in 2015, plus several smaller sports facilities.
In November, work began on a new park-and-ride on the site next to Pride Park and that project has now been completed.
Conservative councillor Philip Hickson, who helped draw up the initial plans, said: "It's been a torturous process but we got there in the end.
"It's going to bring so many people into Derby, especially following the interest in cycling generated by the Olympics. At present, the nearest velodrome to Derby is in Manchester."
The arena, which will double as a concert venue, will be built on wasteland to the south of Pride Park. It is expected to be completed by November 2014.
The council is marking the beginning of the construction by burying a time capsule, which will contain a Paralympic Team GB cycling jersey.