Parks and Recreation is taking the lead because the events will take place at Rhodes Skate Park under the I-184 Connector. But the city is calling on departments from police and fire to information technology, human resources and financial administration, Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway said. Ada County Paramedics, the Ada County Highway District and the Idaho Transportation Department are pitching in, too, Holloway said.
Over the past several months, he said, leaders in all of those departments have held more than 30 internal meetings. That’s in addition to conference calls every other week with ESPN, the sports network that organizes the X Games.
The X Games qualifier on June 9-10 will feature men’s and women’s skateboarding and men’s BMX riding. Organizers expect fans to come and go, with crowds of around 4,000 at any given time. It took 19 minutes to sell 300 tickets for the bleacher seats.
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“It has been a very large undertaking, no question about it,” Holloway said. “We want to create an engaging, festival atmosphere for the public, even if you don’t enjoy skateboarding or BMX biking, to come down and just see a talented professional athlete that you may not otherwise get an opportunity to see.”
The city is spending around $100,000 on the event and hopes to recoup half of that through sponsorships and fees paid by vendors, he said.
BEST IN THE WORLD OR JUST WORLD-CLASS?
The 1.28-acre park, under Interstate 184 between 15th and 16th streets, is named after Glenn Rhodes, a former Ada County highway commissioner who spearheaded its construction and financing.
In 2014, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced that it would donate $1 million to cover most of the cost of the park’s renovation. The city contributed an additional $300,000.
The foundation also donated $250,000 to add public art, a parkour (urban obstacle) course, landscaping and other features to the areas next to the sidewalks along 15th and 16th streets. The city added $1.09 million to that effort, bringing the total renovation cost to $2.64 million.
Last August, 11 days after the renovated park’s grand opening, ESPN contacted Holloway to talk X Games, he said. Two network representatives visited Boise in early October and decided the southeast portion was perfect for an X Games event. A few days before Christmas, the city and ESPN signed an agreement for the June qualifier and other related events. Serious planning of logistics started in February, Holloway said.
That left about four months to get everything ready.
“You really need nine months to a year to really put together an event of this magnitude of the quality we want our fans to experience,” Holloway said.
The Boise Police Department won’t say publicly how many additional officers it plans to use on the X Games days, but there will be special staffing in addition to the officers typically assigned to Rhodes Skate Park area, and the department is prepared to increase the number if a greater presence is needed, Deputy Chief Eugene Smith said. On the other hand, Smith said, part of the department’s job is to help showcase the city for a worldwide audience.
“We have to have enough officers so that we are comfortable it’s a safe, secure environment, but not so many that people won’t come down and have a good time,” Smith said. “And sometimes that’s a fine line.”
The department follows the same planning protocols for any special event or incident, whether it’s Treefort Music Fest in the spring, Independence Day celebrations in July or the flooding response this year, Smith said. The only difference is scale.
Whatever the planning difficulties or security concerns, the potential benefit of hosting an X Games event is enormous. The qualifier will stream live to the world and broadcast on national television a week later.
“Frankly, that kind of advertising, if we were to put a price to it ... that’s far more than our marketing budget, and probably ours combined with the Chamber’s (of Commerce) and Boise State’s,” said Nic Miller, Boise’s director of economic development. “People will see Boise. They see it through the lens of X Games. They think, ‘Hey, maybe that’s an interesting place to go visit or move, or move my business.’ And it’s really hard to quantify that, but putting us in the conversation is definitely a benefit for us.”
The X Games offers an advantage beyond the pure numbers of people who will watch the competition, Miller said. To a lot of people, especially east of the Mississippi River, Boise is what he calls “image-neutral.”
They might have heard of the city, but they don’t know enough to form an opinion. Then there are the people who think of Boise as a great place for recreation or retirees. The X Games qualifier offers a chance to cast the city in a new light to both types of outsider.
“If we can show them here’s a great city, and we also have these assets for extreme sports, I think that’s a win for us,” Miller said. “There’s something here for everybody. There’s an activity that meets your needs whether you’re 8 or 80.”
Holloway said Boise wants ESPN to bring back X Games events. ESPN representatives have said they’re open to that if this event is successful.
What are the X Games?
The X Games are a competition in extreme sports for athletes from around the world.
The qualifier in Boise will feature 23 of the world’s top female skateboarders and 18 males, as well as 21 male BMX bikers. Organized by ESPN, the qualifier is an invitation-only event. The top six performers in each discipline will receive invitations to X Games Minneapolis, as will the top three medalists from 2016’s X Games in Austin.
The Boise competition will be live-streamed; ABC will broadcast taped coverage of it June 17.
Boise X Games schedule
ESPN’s X Games Qualifier in Boise will take place June 9-10 at Rhodes Skate Park, located under Interstate 184 between 15th and 16th streets.
The area surrounding the competition will include vendor stalls, a beer garden and food trucks. Here’s the full schedule of activities:
11 a.m.: Festival area surrounding park opens
2 p.m.: Women’s skateboarding elimination round
3:30 p.m.: Men’s skateboarding elimination
5 p.m.: BMX elimination
6:30 p.m.: Autograph signing
7 p.m.: Skate demo
8 p.m.: Autograph signing
11 p.m.: Park closes
11 a.m.: Festival area surrounding park opens
12:30 p.m.: Women’s skateboarding final round
2:30 p.m.: Men’s skateboarding final
4:30 p.m.: BMX final
6 p.m.: Park closes
Parking, shuttle info
People attending X Games events in Boise can park June 9 and 10 at a city lot on the corner of Fairview Avenue and 25th Street, and in Ann Morrison Park. The city will provide a free shuttle service between these lots and Rhodes Skate Park.
Shuttles will pick up and drop off riders about every 15 minutes between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on June 9, and between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on June 10. Shuttles going to and from Ann Morrison Park will pick up riders near the park’s Americana Boulevard entrance and west of the park playground. Bicycles are not allowed on the shuttles.
Bicycle parking will be available on the west side of 15th Street between Grove and Front streets.
ADA-accessible parking will be available at the Foerstel parking lot, located near Rhodes Park at 249 S. 16th St.
Additional car parking within walking distance of the Rhodes Park will be available June 10 only in the St. Luke’s lot at 688 Americana Blvd., and in the Northwest Bank Building lot at 1750 Front St.