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Guest Column - April 2004

Maximizing Your Skate Park

Add events to boost spirit, participation and even revenue

By Anne-Marie Spencer


So you've opened your first skate park. But are you really getting all the benefits you can from your investment? By scheduling additional activities and events at your park, you can bring in additional revenue, get public exposure for your facility and bring in skaters from surrounding areas. Not sure where to start? Here are some handy tricks of the trade.

Classes

As with any active sport, a person can't just jump in and participate without learning how first. Lessons are a great way to teach basic skills to beginners and offer more experienced skaters the opportunity to polish existing skills and learn new tricks. If you don't know of an instructor in your area, try placing an ad in the local paper, searching online or asking at your local skateboard shop. Lesson concepts to consider: proper safety techniques, park etiquette and beginning ramp tricks for beginners. Be sure to require full protective gear—helmet, elbow pads, kneepads and wrist guards for all participants.

Mini camps

One- to two-day mini day camps are a great way for boys and girls to learn skills and techniques, meet new friends, and possibly even win prizes, if you choose to offer them as part of the curriculum. In exchange for a registration fee, offer a package including four to six hours of instruction time, one to two hours of "free skate" time and souvenir items like T-shirts or stickers. (Souvenir items are good word-of-mouth publicity for camps/classes or other activities.) Be sure to publish a "camp list" of what your camp will require, including safety gear and a functional skateboard.

Exhibitions and contests

Are there skateboard teams in your area that you can recruit for demonstrations? How about a statewide event? Professional skateboard demonstrations and autograph sessions attract both skaters and non-skaters alike to your facility. Besides charging an admission fee, consider hosting a vendor fair, contracting with vendors who offer food, beverages, entertainment, music and community service information.

You also can hold invitationals for the patrons of your skate park, like a tournament or competition. Marc Glotzbecker, director of Parks and Recreation for Fremont, Ohio, says that contests are a great hit among local kids, parents and park patrons.

"Our contests are divided into three classes: beginner, intermediate or advanced; kids sign up based on their skill level," he says. "We also divide participants into BMX, skateboard or inline, so that all of our skate park's patrons have a chance to compete. The kids are great at recruiting judges, and we solicit the prizes from area businesses."

What about participation fees?

"We've tried both free registration as well as a $3-per-entrant fee," Glotzbecker says. "Interestingly enough, we get more participation when we charge for registration."

The Fremont skate park events average about 60 kids per contest, and the camaraderie is great.

"Kids cheer each other on, and parents show up with videotape to capture their child in action," he says. "All in all, it's a great community event."

Again, be sure to require proper safety equipment as a mandatory part of any competition.

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