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Motocross park to re-open in Marpi

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THE Marianas Racing Association has been given the green light to revive the old motocross park at Cowtown after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, MRA president Steve P. Sablan and MRA vice president Justis "Cuki" F. Alvarez  signed an agreement for the opening of the Marianas Motocross Park Tuesday.

After taking a break for over 10 years, motocross is finally being revived and will return to its old track at Cowtown thanks to the partnership between the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and  the Marianas Racing Association.

The talks between MRA and DCCA to revitalize motocross began in January, but due to the pandemic, the discussion was tabled for a few months, the governor’s senior policy advisor Robert H. Hunter said.

After the talks resumed in July, the Department of Public Lands looked into the public purpose of the proposal and eventually approved it.

"We're looking forward to working with MRA to really set up a world-class motocross park at Cowtown," said Hunter.

At the Kan Pacific race track in Marpi, MRA has been hosting practice sessions every Sunday for the past few months so that motocross enthusiasts, children and adults alike, can practice before the reopening of the motocross track at Cowtown which is also in Marpi.

"I know that motocross has been in everyone's heart over the years,” MRA president Steve Sablan said. “It has been a great thing, and it is for these kids that we do this.”

He added, “We just need a place we could call our own. As in any sport, you need to practice and without a permanent track we couldn't do that. We had limited time to use the track but  now having our own track is just a blessing. We really appreciate all the government agencies that have contributed to this, and our MRA family — everybody pitched in.” 

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, left, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Marianas Racing Association president Steve Sablan and vice president Cuki Alvarez sign an agreement to turn over Cowtown to MRA. Photo by James F. Sablan Jr.

 

The island’s young motocross riders pose for a photo with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, other government and Marianas Racing Association officials at the Kan Pacific race track on Tuesday. Photo by James F. Sablan Jr.

Sablan said under the memorandum of agreement between MRA and the CNMI government, the reopening of the Cowtown track must be completed in 90 days.

"I can see the possibility of completing it in 90 days, and if not, we could ask for more time. But you could see the turnout and cooperation and assistance that have been given to us so it's going to happen," Sablan added. 

MRA vice president Cuki Alvarez is also grateful for the MOA with the CNMI government.

 "Man, I'm super excited,” he said. “It's hard to put it in words. All the hard work, all the effort, everybody — in front of the scenes, behind the scenes and just everywhere, collaborating together for the grand scheme and the bigger picture and that is ultimately [reopening] Cowtown. I'm just so happy for the future of motocross."

Alvarez said motocross “has always been here [in Marpi]. We have brought international races in the past and now it's just going to be bigger and better. We are living in a new era, people are going to commit more. Especially with the [reopening of] Cowtown. We got everybody involved and they are going to be giving their support so the future is going to look brighter than bright."

He said MRA will still use the  Kan Pacific track for the next few weeks so that the young motocross riders can continue their training.

The public-private partnership to reopen Cowtown was made possible by the Office of the Governor, the Marianas Racing Association, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the Department of Public Lands, and the Office of the Attorney General. 

Permitting agencies

For its part, the Torres-Palacios administration thanked the permitting agencies, the CNMI Legislature, MRA and other entities for their efforts in making the reopening of the motocross park a reality.

“We… finally have a place for the racing association,” Lt. Governor Palacios said, noting that he grew up watching motocross races on island.

Governor Torres, for his part, drew from his own personal experience with motocross, adding that the motocross park is for the benefit of the younger generations.

“We’re going to build it stronger. We’re going to have a good foundation,” he said.

He thanked his cabinet members and other stakeholders for their roles in supporting MRA and the revival of motocross in the CNMI.

He also recognized the young motocross riders for their enthusiasm.

 “One day, you will say the same thing, sitting here, and helping out the next generation,” the governor told them.

DPL   Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo, for her part, said, “Hats off to you kids. You guys are the future.”

She also thanked the administration for its due diligence, highlighting how both the governor and the lt. governor have followed up on the project throughout the review process.

“The governor would often call me at DPL and ask, ‘What’s up with MRA?’ ” she said.

There was a little delay with the progress of the project, she said, but “the administration has always been behind it.”

The governor’s senior policy advisor Robert H. Hunter, who is also the former DCCA secretary, thanked Governor Torres, Lt. Governor Palacios, MRA president Steve Sablan, MRA vice president Cuki Alvarez, MRA members, DPL Secretary Concepcion-Teregeyo, and the Office of the Attorney General for making the turnover of Cowtown a reality.

Hunter likewise thanked Senate President Victor Hocog,  Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, other lawmakers, the representatives of  government departments and agencies, and community members for their presence at the MOA signing ceremony.

In addition, Hunter thanked the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture, the Child Care Development Fund, the Division of Youth Services, Loling Cruz, Vince Rabauliman, Richard Santos, Jack Sablan, and Marvin Palacios for their logistical help at the signing ceremony.

“We look forward to the opening the new Marianas Motocross Park at…Cowtown,” Hunter said.

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