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ROCK HILL --
The city’s plans are moving forward to transform an open space of dirt at Rock Hill’s Riverwalk into one of only two Olympic trial-caliber Bicycle Motocross Supercross race facilities in the nation.
Rock Hill’s Supercross facility could be ready in about one year, city officials said.
The BMX race course is being built with money from a special tax district from a 2009 bond – so far, $185,501 has been spent, said city spokeswoman Katie Quinn.
The Rock Hill City Council approved a development agreement with USA BMX last October for the organization to invest time and expertise in the city’s project. They received an update on the Supercross plan Thursday during an afternoon workshop.
Once operational, the facility can host national and international BMX championships, USA BMX Chief Operating Officer John David told the council.
David said his organization has more than 7,000 members and hosted 14,000 races last year on 380 BMX tracks around the country.
Rock Hill’s facility will be the only Supercross track in the nation open to other uses besides Olympic trials, David said.
The U.S. Olympic committee runs a Supercross facility in Chula Vista, Calif., with access limited to Olympians in training and some exclusive events.
The Supercross track will give Rock Hill a “tremendous” economic boost as another arm of sports tourism, David said.
South Carolina has five BMX race courses used for smaller events but none capable of handling large championships, he said. North Carolina has seven similar small tracks, and Georgia has eight.
Large scale BMX championships draw up to 2,500 athletes, he said, and regular weekend races could bring in as many as 3,000 spectators.
USA BMX organizes 30 national championships every year and Olympic trials – some of which could be held in Rock Hill at the Riverwalk complex, David said.
Having an Olympic trial-worthy complex, David said, will attract families to move to Rock Hill to have the convenience of a training site nearby.
Construction hasn’t started at Riverwalk for the BMX course, but David said the project has already put Rock Hill on the map in the world of the sport’s enthusiasts.
Professional BMX racers can reach speeds of 38 mph during qualifiers that last less than one minute, he said.
Rock Hill’s facility will be “tailor-made” for those big races and will also be beautiful, he said.
The plan calls for a 26-foot tall starting hill for professional and Olympic trial uses.
The “world-class” training track, David said, will feature a smaller starting hill for local children and amateurs to use. David said children as young as 5 years old join the sport and can get started with a BMX bike from Walmart.
Collegiate championships hosted through the NCAA could also take place in Rock Hill in the future.
Residents will see the course in use nearly year-round, he said, with regular races on weekends and coaching clinics through the week.
The BMX track is another installment in the $4 million Rock Hill Outdoor Center at Riverwalk which features trails, a mountain bike course and the Giordana Velodrome.
Presbyterian Healthcare has agreed to pay $150,000 over the next seven years for naming rights to the Supercross track. Representatives have agreed to be the exclusive health care provider for all events at the track at no cost to the city.