Wheels Up | Sports Destination Management

Wheels Up

On Concrete Parks or Dirt Tracks, Extreme Sports Find a Home in these Cities
Dec 27, 2018 | By: Tracey Schelmetic

Photo courtesy of City of Greenville, NC
Skateboarding and BMX, two sports born in California but popular the world over, are uniquely urban sports. Both evolved on cityscapes: downtown concrete and railings that made riding challenging, social and central.

BMX’s profile is on the rise. Olympic integration of BMX has helped propel the sport in two ways: construction of new BMX tracks and public awareness. Participation numbers continue to rise, capped off by a seven percent growth rate in 2017. Skateboarding, by contrast, will get its first Olympic exposure at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, which could lead to a similar uptick – assuming the sport stays in the Games.
BMX and skateboard parks, once simply installed by municipalities to keep riders safely off the streets, are now a draw for many U.S. cities, who are welcoming those athletes and encouraging competitive events. But it’s not just about the infrastructure: to host a great event, according to John David, COO of USA BMX, locations should provide an outstanding customer experience.

“In BMX it really does boil down to the venue,” said David. “While the riders will always say it’s the track that makes the difference, that’s just one part. Twice a year we host events in Las Vegas at the South Point Hotel and Casino. The arena floor space where we build the track hits our minimum requirements and the track by comparison is small. Regardless, our customers love the events and they are tops for participation. Why? The venue is amazing. It has great food with several restaurants, affordable rooms connected to the arena, a movie theater, bowling alley and more.”

Following are several venues around the U.S. experienced and willing to help event planners with both BMX and skateboard events.

Photo courtesy of City of Boise
Boise, Idaho
In recent years, Boise has been home to the ESPN X Games Park Qualifier. The event attracts more than 100 participants and 10,000 spectators. Rhodes Skate Park, which was renovated in 2016, is in downtown Boise, in walking distance of parking and other amenities.
“When events like X Games are in town, the area transforms into a spectator area with bleachers and activities and vendors,” said Taylor Williamson, Sports/Convention Sales Manager for the Boise CVB. “There are many facilities within walking distance that can handle banquets, awards and dinners.”

In addition, Boise has Eagle Park BMX, home to many local races as well as the Idaho State BMX championships. The park is 20 minutes from downtown and has parking on site as well as seating for spectators. In addition to restaurants and shopping, the Boise area features the newly remodeled Idaho State Museum, the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, the Warhawk Air Museum and outdoor activities on the Boise River. There are 1,500 hotel rooms downtown and 5,500 in the wider region.

The local CVB can help with pre-event planning, site tours, guest activities, digital marketing and promotional items.

Photo courtesy of Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center
Deschutes County Fair & Expo, Deschutes, Oregon
Since 2008, Deschutes Fair & Expo has hosted the USA BMX Great Northwest Nationals. Each year, this event brings over 1,200 racers from all over the world and attracts more than 12,000 spectators. The Deschutes Fair & Expo’s First Interstate Bank Center is a favorite among racers as it was built by USA BMX race track designers.

“Competitors love the track and are excited each year to come and experience the USA BMX Northwest Nationals,” said Roxia Thornton Todoroff, Director of Sales and Marketing for Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.

For the off-hours, Central Oregon is an outdoor playground with a sunny high desert climate and numerous activities, including fishing, camping and hiking as well as art, music and museums. The organization helps event planners with marketing efforts, including email broadcasts, billboards and social media exposure with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and its web site.

“We also promote our events with our regional tourism partners and print a calendar of events,” said Thornton Todoroff. “Central Oregon Visitors Association and Redmond Chamber CVB welcomes our guests and assists with site visits, tours and housing outreach and is the liaison with our local lodging properties.”

Photo courtesy of City of Greenville, NC
Greenville, North Carolina
Greenville, nicknamed “Pro Town USA,” is home to a number of BMX pro legends, including Dave Mirra and Ryan Nyquist. From 2012 to 2016, it hosted a leg of the Trans Jam BMX Contest Series, and it continues to host Protown BMX Camps, where aspiring riders can train with professionals.

“More X Games medals have been earned by BMX riders who live in Greenville or have come to visit and ride Jaycee Park than any other place on the planet,” said Gray Williams, Director of Sports Development for the Greenville-Pitt County CVB.

Greenville’s primary venue is the Extreme Park at Jaycee Park, with features for both BMX and skateboard. The city is also in the early stages of planning a new BMX/skateboard park, though the final choice for location has not yet been revealed.

Greenville is accessible as a drive-in destination from most southeastern metropolitan areas, including Raleigh, Atlanta, Wilmington, Greensboro, Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Richmond, Baltimore, Charlotte and Washington, D.C. There are 2,000 hotel rooms in the wider Greenville area, and a good mix of indoor and outdoor activities for the off-hours. The Greenville-Pitt County CVB offers a variety of services, including public relations and marketing, lodging and sponsorship development.

Photo courtesy of Chicks in Bowls Macon
Macon, Georgia
In 2017, Macon was home to the first-annual Mactown Smackdown, a skateboard event open to both adults and children. Located in Macon’s new Central City Skate Park, the event attracted riders from all around the country. In September of this year, the city broke ground on phase two of the skate park, which will install a competition-size bowl. Once it’s finished, the Central City park and its new skate bowl will feature new trails, underground wiring, new multi-purpose fields, renovated bathrooms, new pavilions and RV hookups – and will once again host the Mactown Smackdown.

According to Heather Wydock, Director of Sales and Services for Visit Macon, construction of the park is just one element of a huge revitalization of Macon.

“In 2017, 17 new restaurants opened and 12 are opening in 2018,” she said. “The theatre and music scene downtown are always alive. Downtown, there’s the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Tubman Museum. We also have an amazing Museum of Arts and Sciences.”

There are 5,500 hotel rooms in the area for a variety of budgets, and Macon’s location in the center of Georgia makes it accessible to all the surrounding southeastern states. Visit Macon has a portfolio of services to offer event planners, including sourcing RFPs to find event space and hotel rooms, public relations, social media marketing, site tours and more.

Photo courtesy of Dan Reed
Ocean City, Maryland
When it comes to hosting extreme sports, an ocean view helps. For Ocean City, it’s ocean views plus skateboarding.

“Skateboarding has been part of our culture for a long time,” said Donna Abbott, Director of Tourism and Marketing for Ocean City.

Each summer, Ocean City holds its homegrown Skate Bowl Bash event at the Ocean Bowl Skate Park, which features the city’s historic 17,000-foot Skate Bowl.

“It’s our biggest Ocean Bowl event of the year and is a free skate day for pass holders,” said Abbott. “It really is a fun day with lots of casual competitions for young skaters.”

The region is no stranger to BMX, as well. From 2011 to 2015, Ocean City was home to a leg of the Dew Tour (BMX, surf and skate), with attendance in 2015 topping 100,000 over four days. Ocean City has plentiful water activities and waterfront dining. The region has approximately 9,500 hotel rooms and restaurants and family activities of the indoor and outdoor variety. Ocean City’s famous boardwalk is a big attraction: it’s three miles of shops, restaurants and amusements.

The CVB offers housing bureau services, social media sites to raise event awareness, and can help with sponsorship, site visits and tours.

Photo courtesy of Craig Dutton

Rock Hill, South Carolina
In recent years, Rock Hill has hosted the USA BMX Carolina Nationals, the UCI BMX Supercross World Cups and the UCI BMX World Championships. The latter was a 10-day event that brought in 3,700 riders from 48 countries and 55,000 spectators. Next year, Rock Hill will host the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Round 7 & 8, the Carolina Nationals, the Carolina Nationals & World Championship Qualifier and the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Finals.

The City of Rock Hill owns the Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track. The facility is a new Olympic-caliber BMX SX track, modeled after the 2008 Beijing Olympic track. It was designed for speed with a 35-foot initial elite jump, asphalt turns for acceleration and a berm jump directly over the amateur track. It has a state-of-the-art surface for all weather conditions. The grandstands seat 3,000 spectators and parking for 1,000 vehicles is available.

“The facility includes a pump track and within a mile is the Giordana Velodrome, the Rock Hill Criterium Course and seven-plus miles of mountain bike trails,” said Laurie Helms of the Parks, Recreation & Tourism arm of the City of Rock Hill. “Rock Hill has several event venues for banquets, with one venue less than two miles from the track.”

Rock Hill and York County feature a variety of restaurants, parks, museums, arts/cultural centers, outdoor experiences and festivals year-round.

Photo courtesy of West Michigan Sports Commission
West Michigan
West Michigan is an annual host to the Meijer State Games, including the BMX State Championship, BMX Olympic Style, BMX Freestyle and Freestyle Skateboarding. It’s also home to the State Games of America BMX Olympic Style and Freestyle and has hosted the USA BMX Midwest Challenge Championship and the BMX MINBL BMX State Championship, which attracted 200 participants and 350 spectators.

To accommodate these competitions, the West Michigan Sports Commission made a major investment in the building of a sports complex that paved the way for its local Rock City BMX group to build a track on adjacent property in 2014. The combined 150-acre property is close to major expressways as well as restaurants, hotels (8,000 rooms in a 20-mile radius) and banquet facilities.

For off-hours, the region is home to The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, as well as art museums. Visitors are also near the sand beaches and fresh water of Lake Michigan.

“Nearby downtown Rockford or downtown Grand Rapids offer more than 160 dining options from fast food to fine dining,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission. “Also, we’re BEER CITY, home to over 60 craft breweries.”

The West Michigan Sports Commission will aid event planners with marketing, volunteers, housing bureau services, apps, welcome packets, social media and more.

Photo courtesy of York County CVB
York County, Pennsylvania
In June of 2018, Nitro Circus chose York County’s People’s Bank Park as a stop on the Next Level Tour. In 2015, USA BMX Gold Cup was hosted at Bumps-N-Berms, a USA BMX-sanctioned non-profit parents’ organization located at John Rudy Park in East Manchester Township that features motocross racing for all ages and classes.

In addition, there is Reid Menzer Memorial Skatepark, built in 2008 and used by approximately 20,000 people a year, which features a large, diverse street/park section including stairs, hubbas, rails, transitions and a flow bowl. A later expansion to the park added a full pipe. The venue is located inside York Memorial Park and has a variety of dining and hotel options nearby.

For off-hours, the Harley Davidson Operations Plant lies just outside York city, and visitors can tour the production floor. History buffs can relive York County’s past at the region’s numerous historical sites, including downtown York’s Colonial Complex. There are approximately 4,000 hotel rooms in York County, and it’s an accessible drive-in area close to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Delaware and New Jersey.

“The York County CVB provides site inspections, athlete welcome bags, promotional and media support, housing coordination, shuttle services, and design and distribution of e-newsletters to participants before the event,” said Chrissy Tobias, Communications Specialist for York County CVB. SDM

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