‘Olympic level’ event expected to impact regional commerce

BUCHANAN — This weekend, Buchanan is likely to undergo a transformation like it has not seen before, as world-renowned motocross track RedBud hosts one of the largest events in its history.

The 2018 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations at RedBud motocross track will take place on Saturday and Sunday. This event is considered the Olympics of motocross, as riders from around the world compete representing their countries. At last year’s Motocross of Nations in Great Britain, 38 countries participated.

What this means for Buchanan is a crowd of people expected to be twice the size of the track’s Fourth of July RedBud National/Lucas Oil Motocross Championship Series race.

“I think the general community doesn’t realize what’s going to be happening here the first weekend in October,” said Bill Marx, the Buchanan city manager. “It’s always been spoken about as a huge event, but a lot of the locals still don’t realize the level of event that’s coming to their backyard. This is an Olympic-level event.”

With that, restaurants should be full, local stores supplied with extra goods and campgrounds are already booked.

Marx said that the area has limited lodging, so a fair amount of the commerce will spill over into surrounding communities, such as South Bend, Saint Joseph and Niles.

“People are coming in from all over the world and looking for places to stay and Buchanan really has zero lodging other than some small B&Bs that are here and there,” Marx said. “The area resorts — Clear Lake, Fullers Resort and Bear Cave — they’re all full. And the campgrounds spreading out from us are all full.”

One way that the event might benefit Buchanan residents directly is through hosting guests through Airbnb. Both Marx and Carol Caroll, the director of the Buchanan Chamber of Commerce, said that they know people who are renting out rooms in their homes to guests traveling to town for Motocross of Nations RedBud.

Marx acknowledges that many of the fans who come to town for the game will spend most of their time at RedBud, but with so many people coming to town, that can still do a lot for a small city like Buchanan.

“A lot of them will remain at the track, but even if 10 percent of those people have the desire to explore the area,” he said. “That’s an additional 5,000 people milling about with money here and there and stop here and there, spending the money.”

Not all businesses in Buchanan are thrilled that RedBud is hosting such a large event, but those are primarily the boutiques and antique shops, which generally operate in quiet, low-key environments.

“If you’re a hobby store owner and you just like to do it on the weekends or whenever you desire, then I see that could be overwhelming,” Marx said.

Caroll also noted that many of these shops are only open a per-request basis, so having to close shop on a busy weekend is not the end of the world for them.

Marx said that the city has been getting calls from all over the world who are coming in for the race. Just last week they got a call from someone from the Czech Republic. He said that even though the Motocross of Nations will bring tens of thousands of people to Buchanan from all over the world, what really matters might be what the event does for the city’s reputation.

“Now people are uttering RedBud’s name from across the world,” he said. “There will be people not at the site here, but all over the world on the web watching and seeing what’s going on in little Buchanan come that weekend in October.”