BMX grand nationals

Racers compete in exhibition races during the BMX Grands Nationals at Expo Square, on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. Tulsa World File

Construction of the new headquarters of USA BMX, the national home for bicycle motocross racing, begins Friday at the former Evans-Fintube property just north of downtown.

Like a motocross track, the path to this point has been full of ups and downs.

In 2016, Tulsa voters approved the Vision Tulsa sales tax package, which included $15 million to build the BMX facility, then planned for the county fairgrounds.

But a problem over beverage rights (Expo Square has an exclusive deal with Coca-cola, which BMX couldn’t live with) nixed that plan.

Finding a new location delayed the project and the costs went up to $22.8 million. The city patched together financing with money from Vision Tulsa funding reallocated for Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, the city’s economic development infrastructure fund, Tulsa Parking Authority money and help from the Hardesty Family Foundation.

For that, we’ll get a 2,000-seat Olympic-quality BMX track and a headquarters and hall of fame for USA BMX, due to be completed by 2021. The biking group will pay rent starting at $66,000 a year for 30 years under a deal with the city. About $13,300 of that — roughly what the annual property tax bill for the real estate would have been if it weren’t owned by the city — will go to Tulsa Public Schools. The rent and the TPS portion will rise at 1% a year.

It’s been a bumpy ride and we’re just now seeing the starting line, but excitement is justified.

City officials expect USA BMX will attract more than 100,000 people a year to our city.

USA BMX will host three national or regional races a year and at least one major international-level event (such as the Olympic trials) every four years. There will also be youth clinics, local race days, coaching clinics and elite athlete training camps.

That means more economic development and jobs. It will bring foot traffic to the nearby Greenwood commercial district and guests for downtown hotels.

We’re excited to see the USA BMX project taking off and look forward to seeing young racers tearing around the track.

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