NEWBERRY – As the City of Newberry seeks to build an identity centered around sports, Newberry Mayor Bill Conrad has reached out to Gatorback Cycle Park with a proposal about possibly annexing the company into the city limits.

Conrad and Wyrn Kern, event promoter for Gatorback, met several weeks ago and discussed how the cycle park could help Newberry further develop its sports image.

While the meeting failed to result in Gatorback’s agreement to voluntarily annex into the city, the cycle park did offer support to the Newberry community.

"What they want us to do is to push Gatorback as part of Newberry so people would go to Newberry, [its] restaurant, hotels or whatever they have," Kern said.

He added, “The only way we would promote Newberry is through our customers."

Conrad expressed his interest during the Oct. 10 city commission meeting, saying that Gatorback could possibly buy land in the future.

"He told me about his desire to have more land, to buy a second location where he can run more different types of races," Conrad said.

However, Kern said Gatorback is not interested in buying land in Newberry anytime soon.

Conrad said he hopes the business considers annexing in the future, adding that Gatorback is closer to Newberry than to Alachua – with only one parcel of land between Newberry’s city limits. The cycle park is five miles from Newberry City Hall, three miles closer than Alachua, according to Conrad.

Gatorback has been in the motocross business for around 40 years, and it offers four events a year, attracting over 1,000 people to the area, Conrad said. He said the city is currently in talks with several hotel chains, and including sports venues such as Canterbury Equestrian Center and Easton Sports Complex into what he calls a “sports event package,” would help attract hotel chains to Newberry.