There is always some sort of mystique surrounding a new skatepark opening. Will it be any good? Who’s going to be there? And how do I get there? Are many of the questions that come to mind when I think of a skatepark opening. For me, the only question that stuck in my mind during the four-hour drive drive from San Diego to Bakersfield was “How can this new park be better than their Orange park?” Fortunately for me, I got to see, and skate Vans latest and greatest park before it even opened.

Located at 3737 Rosedale Highway in Bakersfield, the 59,000-square-foot facility includes a 30,000-square-foot indoor street course, an intermediate and professional in-ground cement pools, an 8,000-square-foot outdoor street course, a 48-foot- wide mini ramp, a 48-foot-wide vert ramp, a pee-wee street course and bowl for beginners, as well as an on-site Vans retail store. All of which was designed and constructed by Rick Carje and Brookstone Construction. “Each skatepark is a little different as we are recreating famous skateboarding bowls of the past, and improving upon them so they’re not lost forever,” says designer Rick Carje. “What I like about this skatepark is that we have more room to work with, allowing us more creative freedom in the layout and design of the park. We learn something each time we build a new park, and they keep getting better and better.”

Saturday’s preview saw some of skateboarding’s most legendary names in attendance: Tony Alva, Steve Olson, Dave Hackett, Lance Mountain, Jason Adams, Ray Barbee, Aaron Harrison, Crazy Eddie Nemith, Jeff Grosso, and more sessioning the 59,000 square-foot masterpiece.

In addition to building its own skatepark, Vans has donated 5,000 dollars to the Bakersfield City Council to use toward the completion of a free public skatepark, which is scheduled to open January 1, 2000, according to Bakersfield City Council members.

Vans was scheduled to open it’s third Vans Skatepark in Milpitas (Bay Area), California in November, but delays in securing the site have postponed the project. Both the Orlando, Florida and Milpitas parks should open in spring 2000. Meanwhile, the Ontario, California (east of Los Angeles) Vans Skatepark is under construction and is scheduled to open in November. Vans President of Retail Neal Lyons says that it will also include concrete bowls in addition to the street area, plus a full BMX track.

Membership to the Vans Skateparks is currently 50 dollars for one year. Skating costs an additional seven dollars per session on weekdays and eight dollars on weekends. Membership at one Vans Skatepark, said Lyons, “Is valid at all locations”.