On April 12 of this year, BMX News reported that Oldsmar BMX— long-time host to the USA BMX Gator Nationals— was closed as a proactive safety measure by the City of Oldsmar, after evidence of structural instability was discovered on the starting hills.
The twin hills (one five and one eight meters in height) were added as part of the track’s $2 Million upgrade to make the classic track into a Supercross facility that would be suitable for hosting World Cup and potentially world championship events.
Following the closing of the track in April, the city commissions an engineering study on the problem with the hills, and make recommendations for a possible fix.
The finding of that report are now in, and the news is not good for BMXers who are looking for a speedy return to the rare air on the 5 or 8M hill.
An article out this week in the Tampa Bay Times talks about the report, quoting it, in part, as saying:
“It is our professional opinion that the majority of the (wall) distress is attributable to the contractor’s improper and poor construction practices and lack of contractor quality control,” the report read.”
—ECS Florida (Engineering Report Contractor)
The “Ride Oldsmar” instagram account posted the following, ahead of the news article in the Times:
“The City of Oldsmar has received the final assessment report for the BMX retaining walls from the engineering firm. Based on the results of this report, the walls of the hill structure will require extensive repair. At this point, we are examining several structural options to renovate/replace the structure. Unfortunately, the conditions require that the track remained closed until the structure is renovated. We understand the hardship on our BMX community and very much appreciate your patience throughout this process. Thank you for your continued support. We will keep you updated on the progress.”
The USA BMX Gator Nationals— a long-time fixture at the Oldsmar facility, dating back more than a decade— has been moved to Sarasota for 2020. No word if it will be moved back to Oldsmar if/when the facility completes its repairs.
There is no doubt that bureaucracies move slowly, and some estimates put the timeline to complete any type refurbishment project at 10-15 months, if all goes perfectly to plan (and it never does).
The possibility of having to level both hills and start over begs the question: “Do we really NEED two hills anymore?” UCI language for what it takes to qualify for World Cup and World Championship events has softened since this facility was rebuilt in 2015, to at least open the door to five meter only facilities for Elite and Challenge class racing.
In fact, the writing is on the proverbial wall that the 8-meter hill could be rendered obsolete in the near future, either via IOC decision to drop BMX Racing from the Olympics in 2024 and beyond, or as costs make it infeasible to build dual hill tracks.
It will be interesting to see how the next year or so unfolds. We would love to be back in our old familiar shooting spot atop turn two for the 2021 Gator Nationals. Time will tell if that will happen.
Read the Tampa Bay Times report at the link below: