Rock Hill’s BMX track to charge parking fee at 1st regional event

This weekend’s BMX races in Rock Hill will be free for spectators but the city will charge a $5 parking fee, which Rock Hill officials say is customary for the sport’s most-competitive events.

Nearly 800 cyclists will compete in the USA BMX Gold Cup East Finals at the Novant Health BMX Supercross track on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The event is Rock Hill’s first regional competition on the track, which opened this summer.

During the track’s August grand opening celebration and races, admission and parking was free for BMX fans. Introducing the $5 parking fee will help the city break even on the cost of operating the BMX facility, said John Taylor, Rock Hill’s director of parks, recreation and tourism.

For future events, he said, Rock Hill likely will continue to charge for parking. In some cases, the cost may be higher, depending on the level of the BMX event.

This weekend, track visitors can pay a daily parking fee or purchase a $12 parking pass for access all weekend. At other facilities, similar BMX events carry a $10 parking charge each race day, Taylor said. It’s an accepted practice, he said, for BMX fans to pay for parking.

USA BMX, the sport’s national organization, also will charge cyclists fees to compete this weekend. The city will receive a portion of that money, too, Taylor said. Competitors are expected to come from around the Southeast, including Tennessee, Florida and Georgia.

At other city-owned parks and recreation facilities in Rock Hill, parking is generally free but user fees and admission charges sometimes apply. At the Giordana Velodrome – located in the same Rock Hill Outdoor Center as the BMX track – event parking and admission are typically free for fans. There, cyclists pay entrance fees.

Taylor says the $5 BMX parking charge comes with excellent entertainment on the track. A shuttle will be available for drivers who use parking lots not located immediately near the track.

Hosting events like this weekend’s regional BMX competition and other sports tourism activities in Rock Hill benefits local businesses, Taylor said. Annually, the city estimates that various tournaments and sporting events boost the local economy by about $17 million through “direct economic impact” such as hotel stays, restaurant meals and vehicle gas purchases.

Rock Hill officials last year approved borrowing $6.5 million to pay for the BMX track and other supporting development in the area. During the next two decades, the city intends to pay back the loans with money collected from Rock Hill’s 2 percent hospitality tax, which is paid at businesses that sell prepared food and beverages.

The city’s cycling venues are located in the Rock Hill Outdoor Center at Riverwalk, a recreation and residential community still under development near Cherry Road and Interstate 77. For more information, visit the city’s BMX website at www.cityofrockhill.com.