BMX and mountain bike riders don’t have to wait too much longer for a place to ride and compete with the finishing touches being made to a dirt track in the Northwest.
Marana residents Kirk and Julie Vaughn have had their eyes set on a portion of Mike Jacobs Sports Park for quite some time. During the past year, with the help of others, the two have begun to revitalize the area that was once home to hydrotubes water slides, go-karts and miniature golf.
All that remains from the family park that was thriving about 20 years ago is a tall, brick tower near Ina Road and Interstate 10, a concrete go-kart track and miniature golf courses that were over grown with trees and weeds, and a run-down concession stand.
After a new coat of paint, refurbishing of the outdated electrical work, a lot of time and effort, and more than 21,000 tons of dirt, the Xtreme Fun Spot at Mike Jacobs Sports Park is almost ready to open.
“Everything is going to be based around BMX and bikes,” Kirk said.
“We are doing the BMX track, a mountain bike section, we’re doing a table-top section for people who ride anything – street or whatever. And then a pump track, which will be universal for all the bikes.”
In addition to the bike tracks, the couple has bought go-karts for the go-kart track and will open up the miniature golf course. Down the road, the couple plans to turn the old batting cage area into a remote controlled car track.
“Basically, there are a lot of younger kids in this part of town that are going to benefit from this track and give them something to do,” Kirk said. “If they have other siblings that want to play the miniature golf, they will have something else to do while they are here. It is kind of a unique set up. There isn’t any other BMX track that offers this in the country.”
Due to the proximity of the baseball and softball fields nearby, the Pima County Department of Finance and Risk Management ordered a 50-foot tall net that will span the back outfield fence to protect the riders from long-hit balls.
Evelyne Thorpe, who is a contract specialist for Pima County, says the county is going to pay for the net and for it to be installed, which will cost about $120,000.
“In a baseball area you expect or your look out for balls, but riding a bike, you generally don’t,” said Thorpe.
Once the net is installed, the park the Vaughns are leasing from Pima County for $25 a year will be open to the public.
The Vaughns are no strangers to opening and operating a bike course. Since May of 2000, the couple has leased space from Pima County at Manzanita District Park, near Mission and Irvington roads.
Thorpe said the park was constantly being vandalized, burglarized and damaged nearly every week. The county even attempted to limit the damage by installing security cameras at a cost of $1,200 a month. The county plans to close the bike track at Manzanita District Park as the Vaughns are focusing their attention and efforts to the new area.
Over the years, the Vaughns have had their eyes on the Northwest property and jumped at the chance in August when the county offered them the opportunity to start rejuvenating the park.
“We know they are reliable, they are honest and they are hardworking,” Thorpe said. “We never received a complaint about them, just a complaint from them about all of the vandalism.”
The Vaughns believe this location will be safer and have fewer issues than Manzanita District Park and will be a fun and unique place for kids and teens to come hang out and not be on the streets.
The park will be insured with the USA BMX, which is the American Bicycle Association. With having that accreditation and connection to that association, the county and park owners plan to host national BMX competitions, and built their tracks with that in mind.
Corben Sharrah, who is a professional BMX rider, sponsored by RedBull and was an alternate for the USA Olympic Team, worked with the Vaughns and their team to design the course.
Once the park is open, riders will be required to buy a membership with USA BMX, which is $45 a year. A day pass will be $5-$7 and race fees will cost $10.
For more information about the park, visit www.facebook.com/XtremeFunSpotAtSportsPark.
To sign up for a USA BMX license, go to Monkey Business Eatertainment,
8579 N. Silverbell Rd., on March 11
and 12, or Peter Piper Pizza,
3780 W Ina Rd., on March 13,
from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
For more information, call 631-4256.