Area business leaders and educators say the UCI BMX World Championships kicking off Saturday in Rock Hill may bring the city up to $13 million – and local businesses are taking that prediction seriously.
This year is the first year the UCI BMX World Championships have been in the U.S. in over 15 years.
John Taylor, director of the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department for Rock Hill, said this should be the largest international sporting event ever held in South Carolina, drawing about 3,500 competitors and 20,000 spectators.
The UCI BMX World Championships will kick off with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Saturday at Fountain Park in downtown Rock Hill. The ceremonies will host over 40 food trucks, live music, kids rides and a BMX stunt show.
IHOP manager Armondo Garcia said the North Cherry Road restaurant near Riverwalk, site of the upcoming BMX event, saw a marked increase in business during the BMX Nationals at the end of March, a much smaller event that brought in about $900,000 to the city.
Garcia said they’ll have extra servers on hand for the world championships.
“We’ll order a lot more food for sure,” he said. “We’ll be very busy.”
Other businesses are getting in on the action through the BMX championship app, where visitors can check a map for restaurants and shopping centers nearby.
Hartland’s Sports Bar, off Dave Lyle Boulevard near the Rock Hill Galleria, is on the app. General manager Rommel Santos said they’re thinking about hiring extra servers.
“There might be double shifts and more hours for everyone,” he said.
Even Winthrop University is getting involved.
Jack DeRochi, dean of the graduate school, is leading Winthrop’s involvement with the championships.
The Winthrop Department of World Languages and Culture is setting up a translation tent at the event to help international visitors. The mass communication department is making a documentary film of the championships. Students are partnering with the city for marketing internships. Winthrop Coliseum will host the orientation for domestic riders. The list goes on and on, DeRochi said.
“We saw the BMX championships not as a single event but kind of as a signifying moment as an ongoing partnership,” he said.
The partnership between Winthrop and the city is a chance to take advantage of previously overlooked opportunities, DeRochi said.
“That's one of the things we're really excited about,” he said. “President (Dan) Mahony has kind of reaffirmed our commitment to really partnering with the city in as many different ways as we can. The work the city has done with sports tourism offers a lot of amazing opportunities for our students.”
Rock Hill hotels are seeing a boost as well. Many are full or even overbooked – and have been for a few weeks.
Taylor said this event has been in the works for about three years. July was designated a special events month for the city, which means businesses are allowed to hang signs welcoming people to Rock Hill without going through the normal protocol.
“We want to roll out the red carpet for everyone,” Taylor said.
Taylor said a lot of factors went into bringing the competition to Rock Hill.
“I think it’s our good old southern hospitality,” Taylor said. “I think we got the timing right, where they really wanted to get back to the (United) States. And you know, the proximity to Charlotte doesn’t hurt.”
About the BMX races
Racers will compete on different days based on their age group and finals are held each day for each age group.
Advancement to those final races depends on points accumulated from three rounds of racing. Points are determined by where the riders placed in three rounds, so if a racer placed second in each of the three rounds, they would have six points.
The four riders with the lowest scores advance to finals.
Visit rockhillSCbmx.com for more information on the UCI BMX World Championships.