The Future Of Street Skating: The Rob Dyrdek/DC Shoes Skate Plaza Foundation.
Skateboarders have been saying it for years: instead of building a skatepark, why can’t someone just build Love Park or Embarcadero and call that a skatepark? For various reasons, it’s never happened. Why can’t communities and skateboarders come together to get it right?
Well, now Rob Dyrdek and DC Shoes have done something to get it right, which could change the face of street skating-and skateboarding as a whole. On Friday, September 5, after the first day of the San Diego ASR trade show had ended, Rob took the stage at a press conference and announced the formation of the Rob Dyrdek/DC Shoes Skate Plaza Foundation.
The San Diego Convention Center room was so crowded it was standing room only, and pros, ams, skate company owners, and members of the media spilled out into the hallway. Editors, reporters, and photographers from TransWorld SKATEboarding, Big Brother, 411VM, and OnVideo joined reporters from the San Diego Union-Tribune and the San Diego Business Journal to listen to Rob’s message. Members from IASC, the International Association of Skateboard Companies, and from SPAUSA, the Skatepark Association of the USA, were also on-hand.
All gathered to hear Rob’s, DC’s, and the Skate Plaza Foundation’s message, which is simple: give street skaters real and legal street spots. Rob started his presentation off by breaking down the reality of current street skating. “I’m 29-years-old,” he said, “and every day that I skateboard, I have to run from police and security guards. I can get ticketed or arrested by doing what I love. Pro skateboarders are the only professional athletes who can get arrested for doing their jobs.”
Rob also spelled another grim reality of street skating: communities also skateproof or outright destroy good skate spots, Love Park being the biggest example. “Driving around late at night with lights, a generator, and saw to cut knobs off rails is not the way skateboarding is supposed to be,” said Rob.
Communities don’t turn a blind eye to street skaters’ plights, however. Many build skateparks for the skateboarders they perceive as running loose on their city’s streets. Unfortunately, most of the parks built reflect a limited understanding of street skating, and it shows in the finished skateparks. Often, the street obstacles are afterthoughts or novelties. You know the drill: six-inch-high ledges right at the top of six-foot-deep bowls, low pyramids with too much transition, foot-high rails.
Enter the Rob Dyrdek/DC Shoes Skate Plaza Foundation. For a quick idea of what a skate plaza is, think Philadelphia’s Love Park or San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Think real ledges, real stairs, real handrails, real benches, and more. All are what you’d find in the street.
The Skate Plaza Foundation champions the skate plaza concept. But it’s also about action. After Rob finished his short speech, the lights dimmed, and he showed a short film that detailed the results of the Skate Plaza Foundation’s first efforts. The film was a computer-animated fly-through of the first skate plaza, designed by Rob himself, which is being built in Rob’s hometown of Kettering, Ohio.
At 39,000-square-feet, it’s definitely the largest (and only) plaza built specifically for street skating. As the conference ended, every skater in the room asked one question: “When is this thing getting built?” Rob immediately answered, and established that the skate plaza is more than a dream-the groundbreaking takes place in his hometown next month.
Besides helping fund the first skate plaza, the Skate Plaza Foundation is also a resource center for the design and construction of skate plazas. You can visit skateplaza.com for information on what a skate plaza is and why they should build one. The Skate Plaza Foundation is also a liaison between potential donors and sponsors and cities. Interested companies can get involved in skateboarding’s next landmark, like Seek, Rob’s board company, which is helping fund the Kettering skate plaza. Rob’s posted a question-and-answer FAQ that explains what a skate plaza is, why skateboarding needs them, how your city can get one, and why he got involved.
Like all great ideas, the idea of the skate plaza is simple but powerful, and Rob summed it up best during his speech: “Don’t build a skatepark. Build a park to skate in. Build a skate plaza.” Rob, DC Shoes, and the Skate Plaza Foundation are dedicated to one ideal: Every skater should be able to skate their own Love Park.