It was to be an event drawing thousands of international spectators to Sarasota for the BMX Supercross World Cup. But Tuesday the plans fell through for a BMX "Supercross" track in Sarasota.
Sarasota County was negotiating with the Switzerland-based sanctioning body – the International Cycling Union (or UCI) – but the talks stalled because of insurance issues like indemnification and sovereign immunity, said the county’s general manager for recreational tourism development. “Language obligatory for us is not familiar to them,” said John McCarthy.
With time running out, McCarthy recommended the county commission pull the plug and end negotiations. “We believe to delay the contract signing any further would not give us time to prepare for and host the event,” he said.
The track required significant preparation at the site on the Sarasota County Fairgrounds along Fruitville Road. It needed 270 truckloads of dirt to shape the hills, curves and jumps that make up the track. The county was willing to pay the Sarasota County Agricultural Association – which owns the fairgrounds and holds the annual county fair – $260,000 for the dirt and labor.
Plans called for about 150 riders to compete in the trials, followed by a regional amateur BMX event attracting as many as 800 participants. That would have been followed by the world-champion “Strider Cup” for children between 18 months to five-years-old on non-pedaled bikes. Thousands were expected to pay to watch — And stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and see Sarasota’s sights.
Alas, it’s not to be. “We can consider Supercross in the future, but we have to come to an agreement with UCI,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy presented the germ of an idea for an alternate plan. “We need to invest carefully in a more diverse range of programs for BMX,” he said. Sarasota has one of the oldest BMX tracks in the nation, at the northeast corner of Tuttle and 12th Street. “I’m looking at helping to make the current track suitable for higher-level BMX events,” he said. “We have sufficient land at that site to accommodate the new launch ramp. We could have an opportunity for Olympic training for 2012. There is interest from South and Central American teams. There’s a bright future for BMX here.”
UCI was seeking $82,500 to sanction the event, and a BMX support group was seeking $15,000 for trophies, hospitality etc. These requests were not part of the commission discussion, becoming moot after the deal fell through.