OLDSMAR, Fla. (WFLA) — As BMX riders battle for Olympic gold, Oldsmar is dropping millions of taxpayer dollars to rebuild their track.
The construction started less than six years after the track originally opened. The $2 million track closed in 2019, four years after it was completed and hasn’t welcomed riders since.
“One day when they came out to check it, it was no longer sinking an acceptable amount — it was a quite concerning amount. Out of pure caution we shut it down,” said Mayor Eric Seidel.
Seidel said crews are regularly required to check on the track and review its impact on the city’s infrastructure.
Crews are currently in the process of rebuilding the track. City leaders had approved the $3 million construction project earlier this year.
Seidel said the costs of the project are covered with taxpayer money through the Penny for Pinellas program.
“When we made the decision to spend almost $3 million, it wasn’t really a $3 million decision. It was the fact that, okay, we’d spend $1.5 million to tear it down then we’d spend money to put something else here,” the mayor explained.
Seidel hopes the reconstruction encourage young local riders to compete and help the economy by drawing elite BMX riders from all over the world to train and complete in Oldsmar.
“I think in 2019 it added like 2,800 room nights, we had over 4,000 visitors, most of them international visitor,” Seidel said. “It fills up our restaurants, it fills up our hotels and frankly it helps pay for the use that the local kids get. It’s a win.”
City leaders say they have taken additional steps to make sure similar issues won’t force another shutdown.
According to Seidel, they’ve hired a firm that will be on the site to test materials during construction to help mitigate the issue.
The project is expected to be finished by Spring 2022 with city leaders expecting the track to host the Gator Nationals in Fall 2022.