New BMX track at fairgrounds could lure Olympic hopefuls to GJ

A racer competes during the Colorado state BMX finals at the Mesa County Fairgrounds in this August 2013 file photo.

The road to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for some BMX athletes could run through Grand Junction.

Mesa County commissioners approved a letter Monday to USA BMX that commits the county to installing a BMX venue and related infrastructure by July 2015 on the western end of the Mesa County Fairgrounds. In return for the county’s $1.3 million commitment to the project, Grand Valley BMX and USA BMX have until the end of this year to raise $606,330 to cover the cost of building the BMX track inside the venue.

The proposed track will include a 26-foot Olympic hill and a smaller hill for beginners at the starting line. The taller hill will allow Grand Valley BMX to pursue hosting duties for Olympic-qualifying events beginning in 2015. Olympic-qualifying events attract BMX athletes from around the globe who attend the events in order to earn points toward qualifying for a slot on the Olympic teams in their home countries.

Grand Junction is one of just four cities looking to join Chula Vista, Calif., and Rock Hill, S.C., as the sole U.S. venues capable of hosting an Olympic qualifying event, according to Grand Valley BMX Track Operator Nick Adams. Adding another track to the circuit will give U.S. athletes more chances to practice their craft as amateurs, collegiate athletes and Olympic hopefuls, Adams said.

“American athletes are going to have a better opportunity to train and prepare for Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020,” Adams said.

A lack of quality BMX tracks worldwide could pull an international audience and up to 1,500 riders, as well as their friends and families, to an Olympic qualifying event in Grand Junction, he said.

“This event would be of a much larger magnitude than the national event we hosted in 2009,” Adams said. “It will have a significant economic impact.”

Adams said Grand Valley BMX supporters would work with community partners to make sure there are enough hotel rooms and other accommodations to host an event, then put in a bid for a time of year that fits well for availability of those accommodations. Televised broadcasts of qualifying events in Grand Junction are a possibility, according to Adams.

Commissioners are applying for grant funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and the Daniels Fund and have received commitments from the city of Fruita, the town of Palisade and Colorado Mesa University to help with the cost of the BMX venue. The GOCO grant application also includes a request for funding for a project on the east end of the fairgrounds, although only a small portion of the project amount is eligible for GOCO funding. That project includes construction of a second covered arena and recreational vehicle hookups.

On Monday, commissioners approved a $2.185 million contract with PNCI Construction, Inc. for the first phase of the east end project, with nearly the entire amount coming from county capital improvement funding. Another $293,184 will be set aside for possible additional costs. Although commissioners voted unanimously for the contract, Commissioner Rose Pugliese said she had her doubts about devoting so much capital funding to the project.

“I do wish we could have delayed the project a bit so not all of it was community capital,” she said.

In an unrelated matter, the board approved a $600,000 contract Monday with FCI Constructors for a remodeling project on the first floor of the Mesa County Health Department in the Community Services Building at 510 29 1/2 Road. The project will allow the county to expand a medical clinic for low-income Medicaid and Medicare patients.


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Why would the County want to compete with the private-sector KOA east of the fairgrounds by building taxpayer-funded RV hookups?

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