Having teetered on a "fiscal cliff", the only international-standard BMX cycling venue in Hong Kong is back on track, says the Cycling Association of Hong Kong. The controversial venue was closed temporarily last year after running out of funds with parents staging a protest and management questioned over the park's operations. Our current overhead is about HK$80,000 to HK$100,000 every month, which is 50 per cent less than before Medes Ma King-cheung But after a period of restructuring, the governing body said the venue was now sustainable and had become more popular. "We are now achieving break even on average," said Medes Ma King-cheung, general secretary of the cycling association (HKCA). The Jockey Club International BMX Park in Kwai Chung was opened in 2009 and hosted the East Asian Games in the same year. The construction cost of HK$20 million was covered by the Jockey Club but the operational cost is self-financed by the cycling association. But the sport - and park - fell into decline when sole star Steven Wong left Hong Kong and the venue became a financial burden, forcing its closure for two weeks last year. "The association did not have a pipeline for BMX development. The venue was here because of a single outstanding athlete. But after the East Asian Games, it was not sustainable," said Ma, who has expertise in investment banking and founded an investment firm. When Ma took up his hot seat, the park was staring at a "fiscal cliff" and reform was a must. The first step in the rescue mission was to cut overheads. "Our current overhead is about HK$80,000 to HK$100,000 every month, which is 50 per cent less than before," said Ma. "Salaries are the biggest part. The association used to hire a few marketing staff members but now we only have essential manpower for daily operations to achieve a break even. "But of course other maintenance costs for facilities, ranging from the lighting system to the track itself, are kicking in. These can be heavy," said Ma. The government suggested three approaches for local sports development: "sport for all", developing elite sports and positioning Hong Kong as a leading location for international events. Ma said the park was embracing "sport for all". Rather than organising major tournaments, the association hopes to popularise the sport. Ma abandoned the licence system for people using the 350-metre international track and the 60m development track. Bikers needed to acquire a licence by completing an introduction course and passing an assessment test. "The original licensing barred many potential users," Ma said. Now bikers are only required to sign a disclaimer, which can be signed by their parents if they are under age. Ma said the association was now using every part of the 39,200-square metre venue and had introduced balance bikes - small bikes without pedals for young cyclists not tall enough to get on a BMX bike. Besides entrance fees of walk-in users, Ma said another important source of income was private bookings. He was satisfied with the monthly 800-to-1,000 attendance on average, discounting the private events. "Running a park is a business. To keep improving, it needs to be driven by business input. Therefore we are adopting a more open-minded approach. "The balance bike and BMX bike shops at the park organise classes and tournaments. All these can help build up a regular base of visitors." Park users said the signs were encouraging under the new administration. Catalles Sin, mother of the youth development squad's only girl cyclist, Noel Vanessa Kwok, said: "There are more people coming to ride. Before the closure, she [Noel] was always the only rider at the venue when we came on weekday nights. "The introduction of balance bikes for kids is good for the sport. They are the new blood to the BMX family." Another parent, Angela Socha, said balance biking was beneficial to development. "I think it's definitely got a new momentum going. I hope more people will come and sustain it," said Socha. Socha was among the group who protested last year when the park was suddenly shut down. "I protested because I thought it would be a waste of the Jockey Club's money if this venue was to be closed down. I brought my boys to watch the East Asian Games BMX race and they fell in love with the sport and started to ride," said Socha. "We have some young riders with very good ability. It would be good if they could race against older children so it can be more challenging for them." Shenzhen resident Stephane Grandiau and his son, Colin, have visited the park once a month since 2012 and were aware of the problems. "The race organisation, the management and safety are all good. The track is also clean," said Grandiau, who is a vehicle engineer. "I am very happy we can continue to ride here. There are very few tracks in southern China," he said. But one of the park's biggest critics, Donna MacIntosh, a mother of two from New Zealand, said the situation was only "slightly better". "There is still a lot of room for improvement, but it's a positive change having a new manager [the on-site operating head], but again, he's not the boss. He has to do what the HKCA tells him to do," she said. Her sons, Rory, seven, and Toby, 10, are Hong Kong residents and leading riders in their age group in New Zealand. Rory finished third in the UCI BMX World Championships in July. If you look at the government policy on sports development, you know it's not possible for them to invest more on BMX now. Track cycling is red hot and they must focus on that Catalles Sin MacIntosh said the park should abandon the entrance fee [HK$60 for adults and HK$40 for students and children] to attract "real talented kids, but not the rich kids who can afford the cost" and transfer the management to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. But the 21-year land licence pact signed by the association and the government in 2008 makes the transfer of management to the LCSD impossible. Alan Mak Ho-lun, the BMX coach who oversees national squad rider Pirro Law Tsz-chun and the youth development squad, said children from low-income families can come for free. "Also, we organise activities and promotions at schools to grow the sports community." Sin said the sport needed more promotion and resources to expand. "But if you look at the government policy on sports development, you know it's not possible for them to invest more on BMX now. Track cycling is red hot and they must focus on that," said Sin. "In Hong Kong, resources always come after you have good results. "Let's hope Pirro and other cyclists can achieve something to get more support."