Will Virginia Beach Host BMX? It's Up in the Air | Sports Destination Management

Will Virginia Beach Host BMX? It's Up in the Air

Mar 21, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Photo © Phototo Studio | Dreamstime.com

The first rule of Thrashmore…is that there is no Thrashmore.

Snaps to you from Brad Pitt/Tyler Durden if you got the Fight Club reference.

BMX riders in Virginia Beach, who had secretly carved out a wooded area as a fun racing ground, found themselves the focus of attention when the property they were using was the site of potential development. When word of their escapades hit the local newspaper in late 2021, they suddenly had far more attention than they’d ever wanted.

Overwhelmed, the riders, who had nicknamed their sweet spot “Thrashmore,” (more details on the namesake later) went in search of new turf.

 Since then, the property, denied to a developer who wanted to turn it into an auto dealership, is under new scrutiny – possibly for BMX – with the property owner being part of the discussion.

So, of course, the question becomes: Does this idea have wheels?

Virginia Beach, long known as a stomping ground for sports (remember: it hosts the North American Sand Soccer Championships and the East Coast Surfing Championships each year and has a new indoor sports center as well), is interested in bringing in more action sports, according to Yahoo! News.

BMX could be the bridge to do so.

“If we want to get into the BMX game ... Where? How big? All of those questions are being kicked around,” said Michael Kirschman, the city’s parks and recreation director, who has met with local BMX riders and City Council members to discuss two possibilities.

The first of these ideas is to carve out a spot in an existing city park for residents to ride recreationally – in other words, to simply allow riders to continue on as they were before people discovered them. The riders are in favor of that, for the record.

A smaller practice track could be built in an existing city park, and several ideas have been discussed, Kirschman told reporters. However, that plan could take more time than expected, since the riders would need to organize, form a nonprofit and carry liability insurance.

None of which had been originally envisioned; however, there is precedent. At nearby Marshview Park, the nonprofit Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association is building new trails that will open in April.

But the second option – the one that is more sports tourism-oriented – is to construct a large-scale competition racetrack to draw out-of-town athletes and spectators.

It’s an ambitious undertaking but we’ve already witnessed the positive publicity BMX facilities can generate. In February, Tulsa saw the opening of the USA BMX National Headquarters and Hall of Fame Museum. State and city leaders attended the grand opening which includes a world-class racing track stadium.John David, chief strategy officer for USA BMX, told reporters that he expects the new facility to attract more than 200,000 visitors to Tulsa every year, adding millions to the local economy.

In Virginia Beach, George Alcaraz, a city planning commissioner and general manager of the East Coast Surfing Championships, is confident that the sports tourism route for BMX can be profitable for the area.

Action sports is the ticket,” Alcaraz said.

Councilman Michael Berlucchi, who initially became involved with the issue because Thrashmore was in his district, would like to enlarge upon the scope of BMX in the area.

“There are some big opportunities to position Virginia Beach as the East Coast headquarters for action sports,” said Berlucchi, who has been attending the meetings with parks and recreation. “We have this authentic skate culture, surf culture. There’s every reason to expand this sport in Virginia Beach.”

Erin Goldmeier, Director of Public Relations for the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, cautions that these are still early days, and that much remains to be seen.

“It has drawn a ton of interest,” she notes, “and when people uncovered this place and the riders who use it, they became very interested and willing to support it. It has really sparked conversation – how we can embrace action sports more in the city? How can we do more for the people who are active in these sports?”

USA BMX has a Find a Track feature on its website. And while there is a BMX track, Hampton BMX, in the general area of Southeastern Virginia, no facilities exist in Virginia Beach.

Nothing has been formally proposed for the Virginia Beach area. And while BMX could be an economic boon for the city, it remains years down the road. In the short term, it may be more advantageous to partner with existing riders on a smaller scale.

Conner Mackay told Yahoo! News that he was among the group that originally rode at Thrashmore and continues to talk with the city about the future of BMX.

“What we want is more recreational,” Mackay said.

The name, Thrashmore, is actually a play on words relating to a Virginia Beach recreational site, Mount Trashmore Park. Mount Trashmore, as it is colloquially known, opened in 1974 as an example of landfill reuse when an abandoned landfill was converted into a park. Thrasher, meanwhile, is both the name of a BMX bike and the name of a magazine that sold expensive clothing for skaters. Thus, Thrashmore.

“I think it’s really cool,” says Goldmeier. “It’s this fun little play on words.”

About the Author