BMX Negotiations Fly Off the Track

Plans to hold the BMX Supercross World Cup qualifications for bicycle racing fall afoul of international negotiations.

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. 

Suzette Jones July 13, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Geez - seems our County could use a course on international negotiations. "Language" barriers just cost this community a huge amount of economic impact and global visibility. What a loss.
Robert Cam July 13, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Suzette - thats not true. please research. The UCI and GSX would have profited funds that could go directly back to the local BMX track and keep $100,000 in the city. It doesnt take $82,000 to host any event. I praise the city for researching the event and being smart enough to smell a rat.. instead of a one time event build a similar permanent SX track at your already existing bmx course and I promise the BMX racers will come and ALL money stays local.
Suzette Jones July 13, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Robert - my research makes me disagree wholeheartedly. The UCI and GSX would not be profiting from local funds. The local funds were itemized to create the track, sanction the event and buy trophies (had all been approved). No 'profit' was going to the participating groups through tax monies. On the other hand, the State of Florida's conservative dollar value per person (out-of-state adult), per day for a sporting event is $143. This is what they actually spend on average for lodging, food, etc. If there are 150 participants with just one person traveling with them, that would mean our area would feel $42,900 revenue being pumped in to it EVERY day that they are in Sarasota. Being that this would was an international event, the average stay would have been much longer than normal...
Suzette Jones July 13, 2011 at 06:45 PM
I daresay we would have broken even on tax dollars vs direct economic impact (the kind of dollars that go in to local business owner's pockets) immediately. Then, of course there are the other two types of impact from which our region could have benifitted: "Specifically, the economic impacts of expenditure are composed of direct, indirect, and induced effects. Direct effects are the purchases needed to meet the increased demand of visitors for goods and services. Indirect effects are the ripple effect of additional rounds of re-circulating the initial spectators' dollars. Induced effects are the increase in employment and household income that result from the economic activity fueled by the direct and indirect effects (Dawson, Blahna, & Keith, 1993; Howard & Crompton, 1995)." Plus, we would have a built-in 'window' to the community to showcase our area internationally... creating future impact...
Suzette Jones July 13, 2011 at 06:46 PM
As you can see Robert, I am a huge proponent of investing wisely, with a 'big picture' vision. We want (and need) outside dollars coming in to Sarasota - not just our dollars recirculating in order to see our economy grow. I appreciate the diversity this international event could have brought to the area - a contemporary sport with many countries represented. Global dollars mean global consumers. International dollars are still strong in some other areas - and that translates to purchases (hard & soft goods, real estate, entertainment) in the U.S. I want to see those purchases happen in Sarasota. We need it.


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