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Supercross track at Riverwalk in Rock Hill nears completion as new direction heads to town

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/08/21/14/48/987-Rz04G.Em.6.jpeg|171
    ANDY BURRISS - aburriss@heraldonline.com
    Participants in the USA Cycling National Championships practice Wednesday at the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/08/21/14/49/60-aUqHs.Em.6.jpeg|463
    ANDY BURRISS - aburriss@heraldonline.com
    Participants in the USA Cycling National Championships practice Wednesday at the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/18/16/39/gSbN4.Em.138.jpeg|474
    Stephanie Marks Martell -
    Workers finish the concrete and bulit steps Friy on the larger of two BMX ramps.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/18/16/39/3Wkmz.Em.138.jpeg|215
    Stephanie Marks Martell - STEPHANIE MARKS MARTELL
    The registration building with its signature roofline is currently under construction at the new BMX facility in Rock Hill.

The BMX Supercross race venue under construction at the Rock Hill Outdoor Center in Riverwalk will be the “field of dreams” for the sport’s enthusiasts, the city’s recently named BMX coordinator says.

Mike King, a 44-year-old former pro racer and member of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, will move to Rock Hill from Chula Vista, Calif., next month to serve as Rock Hill’s first BMX coordinator.

The Supercross track is nearing completion at the Outdoor Center, which includes the Giordana Velodrome, site of national cycling competitions. The Riverwalk development also includes residential properties, walking and biking trails.

King, who started racing at age 5, is fresh off a one-year break from work, he says. He recently served as the U.S. Olympic Cycling BMX Program director for the 2012 London Games. Before that, he oversaw the program for the 2008 Beijing Games, where BMX was introduced as an Olympic sport.

His recent break has been anything but slow, though. Last year, King was tapped as a technical delegate for BMX’s Supercross World Cup. He also spent 2013 working as a consultant in the BMX industry.

King’s Union Cycliste Internationale BMX event duties took him to races in England, Holland, Argentina and New Zealand.

The same type of global events that King was dispatched to last year are the kind of events he says Rock Hill can expect to host soon at its new Supercross track.

Working remotely from Chula Vista this month, King said he’s already received calls from international teams who want to visit and train on Rock Hill’s track.

City officials have planned Rock Hill’s BMX venue – named for sponsor Novant Health – for years.

In early 2013, City Council members signed off on borrowing about $6.5 million to pay for the Supercross track and associated development. The project, officials say, will add about $4 million to Rock Hill’s sports tourism industry.

City leaders plan to pay back the BMX-related debt with proceeds from Rock Hill’s 2 percent hospitality tax collected from businesses selling prepared food and beverages.

But before the BMX track starts bringing money into the city’s coffers, construction must be complete. Rock Hill officials say the facility should be open by this summer.

King expects some of his first responsibilities in Rock Hill will be to oversee the facility’s final touches. He’ll be “very hands-on” during the final construction phase, he said.

He’s already been on the ground twice for Supercross track construction projects in Chula Vista – home of the only other Olympic-caliber BMX facility in the U.S. King lives just a few miles from the Supercross tracks there, which are replicas of those used in Beijing and London during the Olympics.

In Rock Hill, he plans to live even closer to the new track – in a home at Riverwalk, which is located just off Cherry Road near Interstate 77. The concept of a cycling community appeals to King, he said last week after being named BMX coordinator.

The addition of the Supercross track, he says, will complement existing “top-notch” recreational and tourism parks in Rock Hill.

Part of King’s duties overseeing the facility will be to implement youth programs and opportunities for those who aren’t pro racers to use the BMX track. Rock Hill will offer rental bikes and equipment, he said, to offer access for those just getting started in the sport.

With at least 10 smaller BMX tracks within a three-hour drive of Rock Hill, King said, he believes there’s growing interest in the sport and that fans and athletes are eager to see the new Supercross venue.

“The industry knows about Rock Hill,” he said, “and knows that this is going to be phenomenal.”

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068
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