Daredevil, Twin Falls Prepare for Canyon Jump [The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho]
(Times-News (Twin Falls, ID) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 05--TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- Building.
That seems to be the theme echoed after Friday's blockbuster auction in which Texas daredevil Big Ed Beckley won a lease to land his motorcycle on the north side of the Snake River Canyon -- the first step to reenacting Evel Knievel's famous 1974 attempt at the same.
Beckley must build his body. He must construct a motorcycle and ramp capable of achieving the feat. He must foster the capital and media contracts required to finance the endeavor. And he must build the trust of Twin Falls city officials.
All the while, those same Twin Falls officials are building their plans, constructing the proper permitting processes and building public trust that such a stunt will not destroy the city's reputation or be a repeat of the Knievel fiasco.
In other words, the real work has just begun.
For at least a decade, City Manager Travis Rothweiler has talked with as many as nine groups interested in recreating Knievel's jump attempt. There was always a lot of interest, but none could complete the initial steps to secure the rights to land on the north side.
"Now the pressure is on us," he said.
The city's priority is public health and safety, Rothweiler said, and it won't hesitate to reject an application. The city has been clear that having a state permit to land doesn't make any jumper a shoe-in to use the city's newly purchased jump site.
Despite the economic gains the city would see, if a jump is not done right, "it is more damaging to us as a community than us just saying, 'No,'" he said.
The city's other priorities, Rothweiler said, are:
-- Annexing the jump site. The city owns the jump site land and the existing dirt ramp outside city limits in Twin Falls County, Rothweiler said. The city soon will start annexing -- bringing the land under its legal jurisdiction -- so it can use its police powers and regulate activities through a special event permit.
-- Make the jump at no cost to taxpayers. Improvements to the facility will be paid for by whomever is permitted to jump. Taxpayers will not foot any cost except for the salary of public officials working on permitting.
-- Protect the "brand and image" of Twin Falls. If a jump is done right, it will create positive marketing exposure for the area and state, he said. "For those that say we should just say no, I think it is important to say that we haven't said yes," he said.
-- Ensuring that public feedback is heard. The city's proposal to annex the property first will be mulled by the Planning and Zoning Commission and also will go before the City Council. The public may comment on the plan during those steps, as well as the special event permit process that will go before the City Council.
Rothweiler said the city also may seek more public comment and hold meetings, specifically for neighbors or other stakeholders.
"They can contact any members of the council or they can contact me," he said. "They can share their thoughts, their ideas, their concerns, and we would encourage that because maybe some of their thoughts and concerns are things we might miss."
The Idaho Department of Lands owns the 1,147 acres on which Beckley bid $943,000 on Friday in Boise for a two-year lease. Lands Department spokeswoman Emily Callihan said the state has not received the money. Beckley has through Friday to wire the funds, which would benefit Idaho public schools.
If Beckley doesn't pay, the lease will be offered to the second-highest bidder, which was Adrenaline Nation and jumper Scott Smith for $942,000.
Beckley said he plans to finance the jump through television rights, sponsorships and ticket sales.
He said he is confident that he can ink a lucrative television deal. Not more than an hour after winning the auction, he said he had numerous phone messages from area codes in New York and Los Angeles and an offer "from a network with a 'C' on the end of it."
"We're smiling, let's put it that way," he said.
Beckley said he is pushing for a plush 13-week series deal, called perhaps "The Road to Snake River," to precede a two-hour live special for the jump. He plans to jump a rocket-powered motorcycle -- not a steam-powered rocket with wheels -- over the canyon at 230 mph and parachute to safety.
"We're going to film a stunt plane going to the edge and pulling up so I can get used to these 'Gs' and get used to looking at the wow factor of that canyon as I go from 40 to 50 feet high up to 400 feet high," he said.
Beckley has designed but not yet built his rocket-powered motorcycle. He is soliciting sponsorships for the engines. Once an engine is received, his team will build around it to achieve proper weight balance.
"We know that from the first bolt to the last bolt is 60 days, and we'll be ready to test," he said.
The daredevil has had a physical with various blood and stress tests.
"They couldn't believe that I came out of it like a 38-year-old man," said the 63-year-old daredevil.
He said he has lost about 100 pounds over the past year or so and has another 40 to go. At least 20 pounds is simple "water weight," he said.
"Now here comes the elliptical," he said.
Beckley said he also must raise, lengthen and pave most of the ramp. The pavement will allow him to jump in all weather conditions.
"We are going to have 30-some GoPros, 20-some big cameras, the moon truck that shoots it to the satellite and all over the world -- you are not going to be able to be rained out," he said. "It's not going to happen. We are going for it."
The daredevil and decades-long monster truck rally promoter said he also has fielded many questions about other events to coincide with a jump attempt. There have been "surface conversations" about concerts and other attractions to keep spectators in town longer.
"Right now our concerns are the networks' concern -- they don't care if we put on a concert or have a chicken-plucking contest," he said.
Beckley said he wasn't much concerned about anything other than navigating the city's process.
"What we are about is having a good, clean safe jump," he said. "... We have much to do just to do our thing."
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