Oldsmar’s BMX Supercross track located at the oldsmar Sports Complex, 4120 Tampa Rd., has hosted several prestigious events, including the annual Gator Nationals and a 2016 Olympic qualifier.
The Oldsmar City Council voted 3-2 against hosting the 2018 UCI World Cup qualifier at the city’s BMX Supercross track Tuesday night, citing labor, cost and liability concerns.
The split decision came after two lengthy discussions about hosting the event, which is put on by Union Cycliste Internacional (UCI); UCI is the world’s governing body for cycling based in Switzerland that oversees everything from mountain biking and BMX to cyclo-cross and the Tour de France.
During the City Council meeting on Nov. 21, Oldsmar Leisure Services Director Felicia Donnelly outlined UCI’s proposal for the two-day event, which is to be held in September 2018. She noted it would be the only one of eight WC qualifiers held in the United Sates and be broadcast in 42 countries.
When Donnelly told the council members their outlay would be roughly $125,000, and the city would be liable for all safety, insurance and liability issues, as well as provide lodging for riders, their families and support personnel, the local lawmakers balked at the proposal.
Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
“I could justify the expense if some of the other components weren’t there,” Mayor Doug Bevis said at the time.
“If there was any kind of relationship, but this is a completely one-sided relationship.”
Ultimately, the council left the window open to make a deal should UCI make some concessions in the agreement.
On Tuesday, Donnelly said she was able to get the organization to agree to shave about $50,000 off the total price tag, bringing the city’s contribution to around $75,000.
But she said the liability would remain the same and she acknowledged the workload involved in hosting such an elite international event would be considerable.
Oldsmar Leisure Services Director Felicia Donnelly.
“This is a large international event, and it’s going to take a lot of staff from many departments to handle it,” she said, noting the city would need to install the electronic infrastructure, including advanced high speed internet, to be able to meet UCI’s race standards.
Donnelly added that while the officials were concerned about the amount of money, time and work involved to host a one-time event, UCI was amenable to working with the city to host other events in the future, including the prestigious World Cup.
“UCI indicated that they would put in the contract where we would have the right of first refusal for an event for the following year,” she said, adding, “they do want multi-year contracts” and “some of the other locations have hosted as long as eight years.”
But with a tight timeframe to provide UCI with an answer, and little perceived benefit to the city, three of the five council members—Bevis, Gabby McGee and Eric Seidel—voted against hosting the event.
“I’m thinking of the value of this one-time event moving forward,” Bevis said, noting the county’s Tourist Development Council is “looking for long-term relationship events.”
“It’s a lot of money for a one-time event,” Seidel added.
Oldsmar’s BMX Supercross track opened in 2015 and has hosted several prestigious events, including the annual Gator Nationals and a 2016 Olympic qualifier.
Council member Jerry Beverland and Vice-Mayor Dan Saracki voted in favor of continuing to work with UCI representatives to reach a deal, but with a pre-Christmas deadline for a decision and no council meetings scheduled for the rest of the year, the deal was officially dead.
After the meeting, the mayor spoke about the council’s decision.
Oldsmar mayor Doug Bevis (l) and USA BMX CMO Nick Adams take in the action at the 2017 Gator Nationals.
“Like I said earlier, I think it’s a lot of money for a one-time deal,” Bevis told Oldsmar Connect.
He was also quick to note that many of the elite riders scheduled to compete in the UCI event have already been to Oldsmar as part of the annual Gator Nationals and other events.
“We’ve had an Olympic qualifier here, and many of the riders and teams I saw in the UCI race standings have been here in the past,” he said, citing US Olympic rider Connor Fields and the Latvian national team as previous visitors to Oldsmar’s track.
Bevis said while being considered to host a World Cup qualifier is an honor, he just couldn’t justify the time, effort and expense needed to pull it off.
“It’s a lot of taxpayer dollars for a one-time event, and I just don’t think, structurally, it works for us.”
The city’s Supercross track is set to host the 2018 Gator Nationals event Feb. 23-25, and the Oldsmar Sports Complex facility will also host the SSA Florida Cup Series Jan. 12-14, 2018.