BMX course proposed for Nike Park

Published 4:25 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A group of Smithfield residents has asked Isle of Wight County to donate land for what they’re touting as Virginia’s first “all-inclusive” bicycle park.

Andrew Gibler, Kyle Martindale and Andrew Hathaway say they’re in the process of forming a nonprofit organization with the goal of bringing bicycle motocross – or BMX – to a presently unused portion of Nike Park in Carrollton.

The roughly 10-acre site, which formerly housed a Coast Guard antenna, would include a BMX trail and bleachers for spectators, as well as what Gibler termed a “pump track.”

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“Think of a more condensed version of a BMX track where you don’t pedal,” Gibler explained. “It’s using the motion of your own body force to make the bike go, and it’s becoming very popular in a lot of cities.”

The site would connect to an existing mountain bike trail in Nike Park, which the group proposes to refurbish. According to Gibler, the proposal would make Nike Park the first facility in Virginia to offer a competition-quality, BMX track, pump track and mountain bike trail “all-inclusive” at the same site.

The group has put forward an aggressive fundraising plan, which calls for achieving formal nonprofit status by November and raising $5,000 to $10,000 by Dec. 31 via hosting events on the existing mountain bike trail. According to the group, achieving this goal would fund a USA BMX design study and preliminary engineering work.

The group proposes to raise $10,000 to $40,000 by Aug. 1, 2023, at which time construction of the BMX track would begin. Construction of the pump track would begin once the group raised $100,000 to $150,000.

Other than the land donation, the group isn’t seeking funding from county government. The nonprofit would be a “self-sustaining organization,” Gibler said, with event and maintenance staffing provided entirely by volunteers.

It could, in fact, send money flowing into the county’s coffers. USA BMX, the national governing authority of the sport, estimates average usage of USA BMX-sanctioned facilities at 50 participants per week, generating an average direct economic impact of $210,000 per year, Gibler said, noting that the estimate was dependent on the size and type of facility.

Isle of Wight County supervisors were receptive to the idea at their Aug. 18 meeting.

“These kinds of partnerships can truly keep us moving forward as a community,” said Supervisor Dick Grice.

Isle of Wight County’s Department of Parks and Recreation is also “very much in support of it,” said Parks and Recreation Director David Smith at the supervisors’ Aug. 4 work session.

At the Aug. 18 meeting, the supervisors authorized county staff to move forward with drafting a memorandum of understanding with the group pertaining to use of the former Coast Guard antenna site. The board’s decision was by consensus, with no formal vote taken.