Abbotsford BMX track undergoes major upgrades

Abbotsford's status as the focal point of BMX racing in Canada was further cemented on Tuesday.

Cycling BC CEO Keith Ryan (left)

Cycling BC CEO Keith Ryan (left)

Abbotsford’s status as the focal point of BMX racing in Canada was cemented on Tuesday, with the announcement that the city will host another UCI World Cup event in 2013.

Cycling BC CEO Keith Ryan confirmed the news during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially christen the latest rebuild of the BMX track at Exhibition Park.

The Abbotsford track was already slated to host its first World Cup race this year, with an event Sept. 14-15 featuring male and female riders from more than 30 countries – many of whom will have competed the month prior at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Ryan added that the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) has awarded Abbotsford a second race, Sept. 6, 2013. The economic impact of each event is estimated at $1.2 million.

“It’s incredible,” enthused Steve Baxter, president of the Abbotsford BMX Club. “To be feeling like we’re already the top track in Canada, to take it up another couple of notches is really outstanding. We’re very proud and very excited.”

A supercross start hill was constructed at the Abbotsford track last summer, making it Canada’s only supercross facility. That amenity led to Abbotsford becoming the official training home of Canada’s national BMX team, and national teams from Japan and Germany have visited to practice at the venue.

The latest round of refurbishments are to accommodate the upcoming World Cup races, and feature a track rebuild overseen by Olympic track designer Tom Ritzenthaler, and permanent bleachers to increase the venue’s overall seating capacity. Future improvements to be made include an upgraded power supply to facilitate the production of the TV and media broadcasts.

Baxter noted the venue improvements have been supported by the City of Abbotsford, Fortis BC, and generous donations of supplies and equipment from local businesses.

“We’re very, very fortunate to have this facility,” he said. “Cycling BC has poured energy and vision into it, and we’ve backed them on it.”