By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Sports Writer
BMX HUB: USA BMX is moving its headquarters from Arizona to Tulsa. The new facility, scheduled to break ground this spring near downtown Tulsa, will include a national track stadium, the Olympic Training Center and the BMX Hall of Fame.
Courtesy Tulsa Sports Commission
Millions of dollars are expected to flow into Tulsa when the city becomes the hub of racing nationwide in June 2019.
Already receiving a $15 million yearly economic impact thanks to hosting the Grand Nationals every Thanksgiving at Expo Square, T-Town and Vision Tulsa have lured the headquarters to Green Country. The facility is expected to be up and running in less than 18 months.
“We have always had a good relationship with the city of Tulsa and Tulsa County,’’ says Bernard Anderson, of . “We’re looking forward to making this project a reality. With the passage of Vision Tulsa, planning for the new headquarters has begun in earnest.’’
Making the sport’s home in Tulsa even more exciting is the building of a new national track stadium that will feature trials for the 2020 Olympic Team, and the site will also contain the Olympic Training Center and the Hall of Fame.
“Tulsa already has an incredible image among people,’’ says Vince Trinidad, of the Tulsa Sports Commission. “Everybody knows they have to come to Tulsa to be a champion, and we already have world-class athletes competing here. Moving the headquarters to Tulsa gives a more central location, and during Thanksgiving many riders already consider Tulsa a home away from home.’’
The Vision Tulsa vote approved $15 million for the construction of the facility with the groundbreaking ceremony expected this spring. The original site was to be at 15th Street and Yale Avenue, the location of old Drillers Stadium. Due to sponsorship problems and other unforeseen hiccups, a new site has been chosen nearer to downtown Tulsa.
Trinidad says the facility will be located east of Tulsa and the Greenwood District where the old Fin-Tube factory was once located.
“The location is in an area not being used,’’ Trinidad says. “BMX likes the site and the potential it has there. It will bring people to the Greenwood area and downtown. Anyone coming to the national office can go to the restaurants around there or go catch a ball game (at ONEOK Field).’’
A part of the American Bicycle Association, is moving its headquarters from Chandler, Arizona, due to outgrowing its current operation, according to Trinidad. With the sport’s addition to the Olympic Games schedule, it seeks higher visibility and increased community support. Tulsa is anticipated to be the solution.
“Tulsa has a history of working with . This past Thanksgiving was the 20th Grand Nationals here with over 3,000 riders coming from 23 countries,’’ says Trinidad. “You want to take care of something near and dear to your heart, and the riders who have competed here over the last 20 years carry a lot of weight.
“BMX appreciates the community and being a part of it. Some riders have come to Tulsa since they were five or six years old and they know Tulsa well. It’s a great credit to have the national office here. We’ve been working on it for four years and we’re a community who openly told them we want them here.’’
With the passage of Vision Tulsa in April of 2016, Tulsa embraced bicycle motocross (), a sport that was born in 1969 in Southern California. Kids were racing Schwinn Stingray bicycles around vacant lots and unknowingly created a sport of their own. By 1977 pockets of loosely organized races dotted the nation from coast to coast. It was time for a reliable national sanctioning body, and from out of this need, the American Bicycle Association was created.
“It’s a family sport. There are very few sports that mom, dad and the siblings can take part in,’’ Trinidad says. “It may start off with dad riding growing up and he then shares the joy with his son or daughter. They all want to ride and then the next child or mom wants to ride. It’s generational.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite level athlete or a beginner, you can compete. It takes all ages. We had a rider at the Grand Nationals who was 70 and we have kids as young as five or six in competition. In 2017, we had several Olympians here, and there was a good field of entries from across the entire world.’’
Trinidad says all it takes to compete in is the ability to keep the back wheel on the ground. If the back tire is not on the ground, a rider is not moving forward. And moving forward is what is all about.
Toward that end, the sport has developed the program. It stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The purpose is to stimulate youngsters in their choice of career fields, and there are two programs available. One allows fifth and sixth graders to learn about the principles of science in how to build a bike. The second helps students learn track modeling. They can move dirt around and build one. Over 30 schools in the Tulsa area take part.
With current men’s Olympic champion Connor Fields and women’s silver medalist Alise Post hailing from the United States, interest in racing is increasing by leaps and bounds and all over the world. Post’s husband and Olympian Sam Willoughby is a native Australian.
With the National Training Center coming to Tulsa, Fields and Post may become a familiar sight. No longer do Olympians have to go to Colorado Springs for fine tuning. The road to Tokyo 2020 goes through Tulsa. Trinidad summed it up succinctly: “ T-Town is the new home away from home for all who love .”