If you are even a little bit involved with skateboarding, you are aware of the tremendous tension between skaters and city officials. Skateboarding is a very progressive sport. This means that very quickly your skateboarder seeks more of a challenge than is offered by your back yard mini ramp. He and his buddies skate around town and often attract unwanted attention from the police. So you are caught in the middle. You understand the problem. The kids are seeking variety and challenge, and the authorities want to keep everything orderly and defined. And skateboarding can cause damage to some property, notwithstanding the insurance issues of a skater hurt on private property. Never the twain shall meet.
Or can they? There are over 12 million skateboarders in the U.S. Many towns have developed and opened a dedicated skate park. A well-designed skate park goes a long way towards solving the problem. First, let's put the cost of a skate park in context of all town sponsored recreation facilities. A sensible thing to do is to compare the area needed for as Skate Park with that of a baseball or football field. Forget about parking. Let's consider just the size of the playing area alone. A really great skate park takes about an acre, though a lot can be done with less. A baseball diamond takes almost 4 acres of land. A football field takes about 2 acres. guillotine doorSo right off the bat (not to make a pun), you are better off with a skate park. Also, almost every town provides facilities for baseball and football, even though as many or more kids skate.
Let's do a modern version of the Tale of Two Cities (in this case, two towns, and nobody goes under the guillotine.
Town A is a relatively wealthy town with a lot of resources. Not counting schools, it has 14 baseball diamonds, or 56 acres dedicated to baseball. They are in fairly active use, averaging about 3 hours a day. At an average of $500,000 an acre, the town has about $28 million of land dedicated to baseball. A few years ago, the town built a skate park in conjunction with a leading civic organization. It covers about half an acre and has a number of fairly mild features. It is great for 6 to 8 year olds and beginners. But it is a toy skate park. It cost about $100,000 on top of the half acre of land. There are no other facilities in town for skateboarding. The Town charges $10 / day per kid to use it during restricted hours versus $25 a day for a whole baseball field, which might accommodate 50 kids over the course of the day. Result: the skate park is barely used - expensive, not exciting, and no toilet facilities.
Town B, next door, is a middle and working class town. It took about an acre and a half at the edge of a popular park and built a terrific skate park, with bowls and jumps and ramps and everything a kid could want. It cost around $500,0000 not counting the land. It is free. It has a toilet. It is open from dawn to dusk. The result, it is crowded, and the crowd contains a lot of kids from the wealthy Town A.
What is the lesson from all of this? Simple. Look at the investment your town has in sports facilities. Recognize that skateboarders generally skate 7 days a week, versus far less than that for participants in other sports. Kids don't have to play baseball or football in the streets, but often streets are all that skateboarders have to use. Your town probably needs a skate park. If you are going to do it, do it right. Let's say your town is in the North and gets snow. So, let's guess that a kid can skate 100 days a year. If your town charges $10 / day / kid, like Town A, it will cost the family $1,000 / year. Stupid. If you are going to build a park (which you should), do it right and build and manage a park that will be a great success.