ABA and NBL to come together, via USA BMX

May 17, 2011 by  

NBL and ABA will become USA BMX

In a Webinar conducted this morning, NBL CEO Gary Aragon announced that the NBL board of directors has approved a letter of intent on a proposal made by the ABA for the two organizations to “merge operations.”

Both “league brands” will remain in place (meaning there will still be an ABA and an NBL, racing their own style of BMX), but under the proposal, a new, “umbrella” organization, USA BMX, will be created to manage the operations of both league brands and handle support services to tracks, fulfill memberships, etc.

Details are being finalized, and the agreement, while approved by the NBL board, is not yet final. The parties are hoping for an effective date of June 1, 2011 for the proposal to become BMX reality. Repeat, this is a proposal, and not a legally-binding commitment by any party, as of this writing. As Gary Aragon put it on the evening Webinar “this is a living, breathing document, so there may be subtle changes from this point.”

Here are some highlights:

* USA BMX Membership cards will carry both ABA and NBL logos, and all members can race at any track in North America.

* Under the proposal, the NBL’s “All You Can Race” membership format would be discontinued, and all tracks would return to a “pay as you go” format, as in years past.

* A formula will be applied to all of NBL’s “all-you-can-race” memberships to arrive at a “value realized” / “value credit” number. The money you paid in to your 2011 membership will be “debited” at a rate of $5 per local race and $60 per national race you have ridden thus far. For example, if you paid $99 for your local membership, and raced four local races since you bought it, you will have $79 of entry fee credits to use toward further racing under the new…old…well, let’s just say the “pay as you go” system after this goes into effect.

* The NBL rulebook, tracks, racing format, national series, Grand Nationals and other programs will continue, as scheduled, for the balance of 2011.

* All NBL tracks that are presently owed money by the NBL will be paid in full. NBL Pros owerd money by the NBL will also be paid. Both are expected to be paid in full within 30 days of the agreement’s effective date.

* The Christmas Classic will, under the new system, be a combined “East vs. West” shootout, where champions of both Grand Nationals will slug it out to see who is best. Qualifying and other granular details were not yet available.

* ABA CEO BA Anderson, who was in the room with Gary Aragon for the event (along with ABA COO John David), responded to a question from a listener asking “will I have to buy an ABA membership to race one day in Nashville this weekend.” BA said (in the evening Webinar) “for one day, yes you will have to buy an ABA membership” If you are signing up for two days, and have NEVER held an ABA license, you will get your ABA license free.

* The NBL “Board of Directors” will live on, overseeing the “NBL Foundation” which will be charged with “Advocacy, governance, will fund athlete training, fund USA athletes to the UCI worlds and USAC national championships, act as a trustee to a to-be-created “BMX Racing promotion fund,” and other tasks befitting such a board.

* GSX, and their management of the UCI Supercross series will continue as a separate, independent entity. The NBL will divest itself of the shares it currently owns in GSX, and Gary said a purchaser of those shares is already in the picture.

* Gary Aragon will, himself, resign as of the closing of this transaction. He added that he will “put his name in” with the NBL Board to play a role in the NBL Foundation, but it would be up to them, at that time, to re-hire him or not.

* Both Gary and BA were strong in their position that the NBL brand and legacy should continue, with every bit of the sense of pride it always has. The sentiment was that the only thing that would change is the postmark (from Ohio to Arizona).

* The NBL Magazine will reportedly be discontinued (no word on whether Floyd Publications plans on continuing it under a new name).

* In a moment of levity, former NBL Chairman James Bagwell submitted a “question” asking BA for an executive decision on whether his ABA and NBL memberships could be reclassified to Novice. BA said he would grant him the Reclass only if he agreed to a challenge race. If James won, he’d get his reclass. If BA won, James would continue in Expert. No word on whether they’d be using the transfer system or total points.

Update 3:37 CDT: BMX News will post a podcast of tonight’s NBL Webinar. Watch for it soon after the call, around 10:30PM, EDT right here on News

UPDATE 7:58PM CDT RE: NationsTour. We reported earlier that it was officially canceled. After the evening Webinar, it was clarified that the NationsTour was a GSX matter and no final determination has been made yet.

Update 5:10 CDT: Another clarification: USA BMX will pay tracks the $5.95 per rider for any riders that have “credits” on their existing NBL membership. If a rider shows up at an NBL track once USA BMX is in place, they will be able to race without paying an entry fee, and one credit will be debited from their membership. All other riders will be paying a per-race entry fee as of the effective date, and track operators will, once again, pay their race report and insurance fees, as they did before the NBL’s “all you can race” format went into effect, 137 days ago.

Update 6:17 CDT: Former NBL Chairman Darol Carr was brought in to speak for and to the NBL board in the negotiations with the ABA. Gary Aragon says Darol wholeheartedly endorses this agreement.

Update 6:21 CDT:ABA and NBL Halls Of Fame will be combined, and move forward as the National BMX Hall Of Fame.

Update 6:25 CDT: NBL Tracks will fold into ABA state districts as of next season, and all riders in that district will compete for district plates.

Update 6:25 CDT: USA BMX will run one Regional series, to which ABA and NBL riders will be invited to participate.

Update 6:27 CDT: ABA and NBL National series will continue independently, and will end with each league’s Grands…but then both will come together at the Christmas Classic. President’s cup will continue in its current format (with ABA riders brought in for 2012). That is going to probably be the biggest race of all time.

Update 6:30 CDT: “One Membership Card” will take effect as of the closing of the deal

Update 6:27 CDT: $5.95 is the value of one local race to be debited from your paid-in value. Regional and Nationals will be calculated at “Entry Fee” value (the amount you would have paid if you were using a local membership $60 for nationals and $50 for regionals). Team Sheets will work the same way, where a value is assigned to each team sheet going forward, and that amount is deducted.

Update 6:34 CDT: Gary spoke for 34 mins, then opened it up to questions.
NBL Tracks have been told to sign new riders up for a 30-day membership and not a full membership. The thinking is that the new USA BMX membership will be in place for sale by then.

Update 6:48 CDT:Opens Do not count toward your “Debited” racing from your paid-in value.

Update 6:56 CDT: Your 2011 NBL membership will be evaluated in this way:
1). How much did you pay for your membership to date (either up front, or as a per month charge).
2). Less a “membership fee” (undetermined as of this writing)
3). Less how many races you rode based on a value of $5.95 for local, $50 for regionals and $60 for Nationals.

Anything left over against your paid-in value will be a credit toward future entry fees.

Update 6:56 CDT: No location set for President’s Cup/Christmas Classic in 2011 yet. USA BMX will make the announcement in the future.

Below are four segments containing the full audio of the evening Webinar (total running time: about two hours).

*note: apologies if the first three minutes sound like an obscene “breather” phonecall for you headphone wearers. I didn’t realize my headset mic was hot and it was about a millimeter from my mouth

Full-Play Audio of the Evening Webinar:

Part 1 of 4:

Part 2 of 4

^^Clarification: At :10 in segment 2, BA says that as of January 1, all riders will be able to race both ABA and NBL tracks with one membership. The riders will be able to “cross-race” (ABA riders can race NBL tracks and vice-versa), as of the start of the USA BMX program (slated for June 1). However, current NBL riders will only be able to redeem their “credits” (as mentioned above) at NBL tracks. This was confirmed after the fact by BA.

Part 3 of 4

Part 4 of 4



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