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.
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.
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.
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.
Another possible revenue source is renting out your skate park before or after regular business hours. You'll want to require reservations in advance, set a time limit of perhaps two to three hours and decide how many skaters to allow for your basic fee. Consider allowing additional skaters for an extra fee, according to your capacity and comfort level. You might want to do the same with spectators, a set amount allowed in for the base fee, with a nominal additional charge for extra spectators.
Decide if you will allow food (at least cake and beverages will be expected at birthday parties) and who will provide them. You also may want to consider a non-refundable deposit, to cover clean up and other needs that may be required of your staff.
There are many types of venue opportunities to consider, like concerts, weddings (yes, weddings!) and birthday celebrations. Glotzbecker says Fremont's skate park is going to begin offering the facility for birthday parties this May. Kids love to celebrate in their favorite places, and much like pizza parlors and roller rinks, skate parks are no exception.
Businesses looking to appeal to the youth demographic may be interested in your facility as a place to shoot a commercial or promotional photos. Of course, you'll want to work with interested parties to ensure that this type of activity doesn't interfere with your already scheduled events, but it's a great way to have your venue seen in print. Be sure to insist that "Shot on location at XYZ Skate Park" appears on any print work that is published. You may even be able to assist by providing access to talented skaters, bikers or inliners.
You already may have noticed that passersby enjoy watching the action in your skate park. Adding seating for them is a easy way to encourage attendance. If parents have somewhere to be comfortable while their children are using the park, they may be inclined to stay longer, as well as make your park the destination, even if it isn't the closest. Seating is also a must for competitions and events: Remember not everyone who attends will be skating. The viewing area must be detached from the skating area and separated by a fence or large space. Fencing is best, as it will keep flying boards from hitting bystanders.
Remember, creativity is the key to discovering new ways to utilize your skate park. For additional ideas, ask your patrons what kind of activities they'd like to see at the facility. Partner with local skate shops and radio stations to create promotions. Look at other sport facilities in the area to get ideas. You'll discover that adding activities will bring additional business, get public exposure for your venue and create excitement among community members.
Anne-Marie Spencer is the marketing communications manager for GameTime. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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