Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Oldsmar gets endorsement of USA BMX for its dream of Olympic-style track

Zack Blevin, 10, left, and Jackson Gentry, 9, ride at Oldsmar BMX at Canal Park in April.


Zack Blevin, 10, left, and Jackson Gentry, 9, ride at Oldsmar BMX at Canal Park in April.

OLDSMAR — The organization that oversees BMX racing in the United States has agreed to sign a letter of intent with Oldsmar to designate a proposed Olympic-style track here as an official training facility and also to hold more races here.

"Although it is not in writing yet, what the letter will show is (USA BMX) is making a commitment to hold more multi-year events as well as having the track designated as an official USA BMX training facility,'' City Manager Bruce Haddock said.

Haddock, leisure services director Lynn Rives, and Kevin Smith, director of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Sports Commission, traveled to Arizona Feb. 3 to seek an agreement from USA BMX officials.

"It was a very productive session, a very productive meeting,'' Haddock told council members during the Feb. 4 City Council meeting. "We set some targets and goals and plan to have a letter of intent approved by both parties — that would be the city and USA BMX — prior to the Gator Nationals next month and to have the new and expanded track operating in 12 months."

The council chambers erupted in applause.

BMX stands for bicycle motocross. Since 2002, the city has operated Oldsmar BMX, a track at Canal Park. It not only is a popular city recreational facility, it also is recognized internationally as the home of the annual USA BMX Gator Nationals. Last year that event drew participants from 38 states and 16 countries.

About a year ago, Haddock, Rives, Smith and John David, chief operating officer of USA BMX, began working on a plan to expand the BMX facility and build a track for the sport's most elite athletes.

The new track they have proposed would be similar to one at the U. S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., near San Diego. It would include a 26-foot-tall starting hill, and riders would be able to go faster and confront more challenging obstacles, said John Sawyer, director of Oldsmar BMX.

More bleachers and two announcing towers would also be added.

Beginning BMXers would not be forgotten. The new facility would also include a 14- to 16-foot starting hill for amateur riders.

The biggest challenge is funding the estimated $1.2 million construction cost. The city has earmarked $200,000 from its own coffers, but Haddock hopes the city also can get $1.1 million of Pinellas County hotel bed tax revenue. In October, the city submitted a request for those dollars to the Pinellas County Commission.

The city faces stiff competition for those dollars from other groups, including the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which wants to build a new aquarium on the downtown Clearwater waterfront.

County Commission chairwoman Karen Seel will visit Oldsmar later this week to tour the site where the track would be built. Oldsmar is a small city, but Seel said that in recent years, tourism and economic opportunities have expanded there.

"First, Oldsmar is a pretty destination, and the growth in Oldsmar has been really quite phenomenal. There's a nice industrial base of businesses and I also think of hotels and motels that have been built,'' she said.

Oldsmar officials have been concerned since learning in September that the Sarasota County Commission approved an ordinance allowing tourist development tax dollars to fund capital projects. At the top of that county's list: an Olympic-level BMX racing facility.

During last week's Oldsmar council meeting, Mayor Doug Bevis said that the pending letter of intent from USA BMX is especially valuable given the situation in Sarasota.

"Bruce and I have been meeting with elected officials who could fund some money, but the real big issue we've been up against, and we had to emphasize, is that the County Commission in Sarasota has approved $1 million to fund a similar type of project, although they really don't have the endorsement of (USA BMX). So, this is exciting.''

Pat Calhoun of the Sarasota County parks department said their current track has hosted only regional events, nothing like the size of the Gator Nationals.

"But once our new track is done, we hope to draw large events,'' he said. "Sure, there might be competition between the two tracks, but really BMX is such a fast-growing sport that there will probably be a synergy to it when it comes to coordinating training for riders between the two places.'''

Officials at USA BMX did not return a call for comment.

Piper Castillo can be reached at or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, visit

. If you go

USA BMX Gator Nationals

The USA BMX Gator Nationals will be held March 21-23 at Oldsmar BMX, 3120 Tampa Road.

There is no admission fee, however parking costs $5 per day. Parking passes will be available starting March 8 at Oldsmar BMX during regular operating hours. For more information, call (727) 786-7433.

Oldsmar gets endorsement of USA BMX for its dream of Olympic-style track 02/07/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 1:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump pays somber tribute to fallen troops on Memorial Day


    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed the nation's "boundless" gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice paid by Americans defending the United States, dedicating his first Memorial Day address as commander in chief to a top Cabinet secretary and two other families who lost loved ones.

    Brittany Jacobs, left, watches as her 6-year-old son Christian Jacobs meets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Arlington, Va. Jacobs father, Marine Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, was killed in 2011. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida education news: Budgets, discipline, charter schools and more


    BUDGETING: Florida school district officials keep a close eye on their spending plans as they await word on the Legislature's budget. Gov. Rick Scott

  3. Forecast: Return of summertime pattern means afternoon storms on tap for Tampa Bay


    As if Memorial Day wasn't enough of a signal that summer truly is upon us, this week's forecast across the Tampa Bay area will be a stark reminder.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  5. Manuel Noriega, Panamanian strongman toppled in U.S. invasion, dies at 83


    Gen. Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian strongman and onetime American ally who was toppled from power in a 1989 U.S. invasion and who spent more than two decades imprisoned on drug dealing and conspiracy convictions, died late Monday. He was most likely 83.

    Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega waves to newsmen after a state council meeting, at the presidential palace in Panama City, where they announced the new president of the republic in 1989. Panama's ex-dictator Noriega died Monday, May 29, 2017, in a hospital in Panama City. He was 83. [Associated Press]