Walton foundation adds $1.4 million in grant funding for cyclocross races in Fayetteville

Riders pedal at the start of the 2019 pro women’s FayetteCross event at Centennial Park in Fayetteville. / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The Walton Family Foundation has put more grant money toward cyclocross racing at Centennial Park in Fayetteville.

The city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission last week approved a grant amendment with the foundation to increase the total funding to $3.7 million for three events at the new park. The foundation in 2019 gave $2.3 million for the races, but more money is needed so the foundation offered to make up the difference with an additional $1.4 million.

Cyclocross is a unique type of competitive racing that combines the speed of road bike races with the terrain of mountain bike events. The 30- to 60-minute races are held on shorter, spectator-friendly courses in which racers typically hop off and carry their bikes up steep uphill sections or over various obstacles.

One of the events has already occurred – the FayetteCross pro and amateur series held in October 2019.

The two remaining events are a UCI Cyclocross World Cup race on Oct. 13, and the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships on Jan. 29-30.

2019 FayetteCross / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The commission recently agreed to a partnership with Medalist Sports to manage the events after Experience Fayetteville, the city’s tourism bureau, parted ways with original organizer Parkven Productions.

Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville, said the budget for the events, which are being paid for entirely by grant money, has since been refined.

“In the course of bringing Medalist on board we adjusted our budget and realized there were some areas where we felt like we had not appropriately budgeted,” said Rawn. “So the Walton Family Foundation’s Personal Philanthropy Group has offered to bridge that gap.”

Rawn said the bureau is playing a bit of “catch-up” after changing promoters, and is trying to enter contracts with numerous organizations to prepare for the events, particularly the World Cup races which are less than three months away. Contracts must be in place for sponsorships and vendors for things like security, fencing, or food and beverages, she said.

To address those concerns, commissioners also approved a limited amendment to its financial policy to allow the bureau to execute agreements without bringing each contract to the commission for individual approval (the policy usually requires commission approval for contracts over $20,000).

A massive, 38-stair obstacle is one of the major features of the cyclocross racecourse being built at Centennial Park in Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Rawn said each contract would still be contingent upon legal review and approval, and all agreements would eventually be reported to the commission after the completion of each event.

Jennifer Walker, vice president of finance for the bureau, said the amendment only applies to the foundation grant money for contracts related specifically to the two remaining cyclocross events.

“It would not apply to any other operations or other grants,” said Walker.

UCI is short for the Union Cycliste Internationale, the worldwide governing body for cycling that was founded in 1900 in Paris, France.

World Cup events are part of a season-long competition. The upcoming season includes 16 events, only three of which are scheduled in the United States. The others are planned in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

The World Championships award a gold medal and a rainbow jersey to the winner of a single race. The event includes six categories: men’s elite, women’s elite, men’s under 23, women’s under 23, men’s juniors and women’s juniors. The elite events are typically held on a Sunday with the other category races held on the Saturday before. The winners of each category wear their rainbow jersey in every race until the following year’s event when a new champion is crowed.