With the town of Gilbert delaying a decision to build a large-scale BMX complex, USA BMX is now figuring out what it will do next.
In a press release sent out on April 18, the town announced it will hold off on any further progress with a proposed complex it would build as part of an agreement with USA BMX, the sports governing body. In the release, Mayor John Lewis said the facility remains part of the town’s master plan, but said the town has other parks projects that “require our attention first.”
“We were very surprised; we hadn’t had an indication this would happen at all,” said USA BMX Chief Operating Officer John David. “We really hadn’t seen this coming.”
His surprise was rooted in the way the project came about, as the Gilbert-based USA BMX put out a request for proposal the town responded to.
The proposed BMX complex would feature a 4,000-seat arena that would host four national events per year. The project also has a hall of fame, museum, business office for USA BMX, BMX course, and a bike park Gilbert residents could use for free.
The council first expected to vote on the project at its April 17 meeting, but the vote was first pushed back after residents voiced concerns and complaints concerning the project at two public hearings. The complaints were tied in part to traffic problems due to the facility’s location near Greenfield and Germann roads and close to SanTan Village Mall, and noise issues.
A more prominent issue residents had with the project is the approximately $20 million expense, with the town paying at least $15 million up front through either bonds or money in reserve or parks funds. Residents preferred the funds go to different projects in town.
Gilbert Economic Development Director Dan Henderson said in a prior interview the town would receive the money back due to the agreement with USA BMX. Per Henderson, Gilbert would receive lease payments for the facility from USA BMX over a 30-year span and would receive funds through a secondary means. The second option is a stipulation in which USA BMX has to fill a certain amount of hotel rooms per year during the lease period; years one through 10 require 3,500 rooms; years 11 through 20 require 4,000 rooms; and years 21 through 30 require 4,500 films. If those benchmarks fall short, USA BMX has to reimburse the town for the missing room tax revenues at 4.5 percent per room.
USA BMX Chief Executive Officer B.A. Anderson said the organization considers those estimates to be conservative, and said the economic benefits for Gilbert include the free access to the bike park, BMX riders moving into the community to use them and the money from the national events.
Anderson said in that initial interview the organization would wait for Gilbert to make a decision before reconsidering its plans. With the decision to end it almost wholesale, David said USA BMX is discussing the project with town management and the Town Council before making any other decisions.
“It’s premature to say what we’re going to do,” David said.
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