There is significant and measureable value when fans pack a sold-out stadium to root for their favorite team. On Jan. 12, fans did exactly that at Chase Field, pumping up the local economy by purchasing tickets to the Monster Energy AMA Supercross race, as well as buying expensive beverages costing more than a six pack of same. But the economic boost extends far beyond the event itself, if the public is allowed access to areas that facilitate recreational spending.
Unlike football or baseball, where many fans who attend a game often return home to watch the rest of a season on the couch, seeing professional racers jump through the air frequently inspires everyday off-road riders to get out to their favorite track, trail or desert escape — and spend additional cash on gear, parts, gas, food and riding permits to do so. The impact on surrounding towns is referred to as the ‘Supercross Stimulus.’
“After the race everyone wants to come out to be the next Ricky Carmichael or Jeremy McGrath,” said Kenny Porter, owner of Canyon Motocross Track in Peoria and the sanctioning race body, Arizona Motocross.
Speedworld Motocross Park in Wittmann typically sees increases of up to 200 amateurs coming out to satisfy their own dirt fix the day after the event, and private tracks make up only a small fraction of the places riders visit. Public lands and those managed by the Bureau of Land Management are popular destinations for tens of thousands of families across the state.
But every year access to those lands is threatened by new restrictions on their use, such as current litigation involving the Sonoran National Monument in Maricopa County. The trend, which is becoming more common, is that once land has been designated as a national monument, it can circumvent the legislative process with an immediate and dramatic impact on access, especially for motorized vehicles.
“Unfortunately, on many fronts this is a step-backward,” said Lori McCullough, CEO and executive director of Tread Lightly!, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting responsible outdoor recreation. “The facts are that aside from its tremendous economic impact, outdoor recreation is proven to positively impact our physical and mental well-being.”
In an age of austerity, this potentially self-inflicted wound would do nothing but contribute to the destruction of local Arizona businesses. A recent study by the Outdoor Industry Association found that motorized recreation generates $267 billion in annual economic impact, nationwide. Having a major city in the state host an AMA Supercross race is just one more perk.
“Usually, the day after Supercross comes to Phoenix is one of the busiest days of the year for us,” said Rey Martinez, general manager of Speedworld Motocross Park in Wittmann.
To continue allowing riders to open their wallets throughout the state’s local and often rural economies, it is imperative that these citizens have appropriate places on public lands to ride. In order for the ‘Supercross Stimulus’ to continue to flow to Arizona it is essential that agency and legislative decisions do not unnecessarily curtail sustainable riding opportunities.
“Do we see a boost in interest from local riders as Supercross is coming to town? Absolutely,” said Bruce Gill, regional sales director of Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. “You have to consider how Supercross is basically the largest marketing effort in the country to promote the off-road lifestyle, whether it’s on two or four wheels. I think you’d be hard-pressed to watch Villopoto or the other pros tearing it up out there and not want to get out and ride with your buddies.”
Which is exactly what the state legislators representing local tracks, shops, restaurants and everyone in between should be happy to hear.
— Scott Shaffstall is Kawasaki Motor Corp. account executive at Freeman/McCue Public Relations.