Aberdeen Pro-Am “Criticized to Death”

January 10, 2014 by  

Aberdeen Exchange BMX

By Kyle Oswald

The past several BMX seasons, Aberdeen BMX has put on Big Money ProAm events. These races have given the fast Ams and Elite riders a chance to race each other for big Money. This event has never had a repeat champ and the the prize money has increased every year we ran the race. The 2013 installment had over $25K in Government Green. Some of the most elite racers in BMX racing have come to Aberdeen, South Dakota–and put on a great show for our fans. The South Dakota State Finals and the 20K payday has become known throughout USA BMX–and even worldwide–with Aussie Anthony Dean flying up to claim the big paycheck.

With Washington State coming aboard with a mega pay day and USA BMX at the same time pumping up the prize money at the 2013 Grands, it seems as if monster money is starting to take over.

Whats in store for 2014? In one word…. SHOCKING!!!

For at least this season Aberdeen is closing the book on this chapter of Big Money and big names traveling in the Crop Duster plane to South Dakota. Whats the deal??? Some might ask “did they lose their sponsor money?” “Did USA BMX tell them ‘no more’?”, “did the pros think it was unfair?” “Did the track close forever?” None of the above.

The ProAm in Aberdeen was already 75% set for 2014 and yes it was slated to be even bigger topping 35 large in cash and prizes. Two Yamaha quads were also to be added as well. So what happened?

Every year Aberdeen gets their fair share of complaints and critisizm of the ProAm. From choosing bad dates to an unfair pay structure. This is nothing new. But this off season it came to a head after a couple things.

Seeing other tracks step up and seeing USA BMX really step up the money, kind of makes you wonder if our small town of 25,000 changed the lay of the land in BMX pro payouts. Maybe it had nothing to do with it. We’ll never know.

You can’t please everybody but, as one example, its really hard listening to people complain about how the Women’s prize purse should be equal to the men. Yes! Our Elite Women work just as hard as the guys. That has nothing to do with it. Though ours was the largest Women’s pro am purse, people are still furious with us. They say we treat the Women “Unfairly” by giving the guys so much more. It’s not just that purse, it’s also the team purse that was drawing darts from the haters. Same story. “Its just not fair.” And the larger this payout keeps going the more and more people complain.

The large payout has also affected our local program. Our regulars are asking “why dont we use all that money for our program?” We can’t do that, because that is specially set-aside from our day to day operations and has no bearing whatsoever on the local scene. Even losing some local sponsors that also think like our members… “use that ProAm money, you dont need our support”

I know people reading this will say that it’s not fair for us to just pull the whole event. We see it differently. If we just canceled the Women’s Pro Am would that be the right move? If just the team purse would that be the right move? In this case it’s an “all or nothing” scenario. So, we decided not to host the event this year. We have no regrets over the years; the racing was nailbiting every year. From Photo Finishes to 8-rider pile ups the Proam has had it all. Local winners, out of state winners, even an out-of-country winner.

So is this the end…. The South Dakota State Finals will happen again this year and we will continue our longtime motto of “its showtime!” We will be plying to a more of the local crowd this year, but we still put on one heck of a show. Who knows, maybe we will still give away a Yamaha quad to a lucky fan at the finals?

The 2015 season is a ways off. Maybe we’ll bring it back. For now, just ride hard and don’t forget the most important thing: HAVE FUN!

Kyle Oswald
Aberdeen Exchange BMX