This year’s annual SkatePark of Tampa Pro Contest ran without a hitch as usual. Spectator turnout was about the same as previous years with 400 people on Friday and 600 people on both Saturday and Sunday. The addition of a new upstairs seating area made the crowd more comfortable and provided a better view. However, SPoT Owner Brian Schaefer and many others throughout the weekend noticed a dramatic decline in industry presence: “Skater, friend, and industry attendance was at an all-time low-related to the financial decline and tons of companies out of business, in my opinion.”
According to Schaefer, about 25 vert skaters and 125 street skaters enter the contest every year. This year it was down to sixteen vert riders and 82 street competitors. Additionally, there was a lot less hype involved with the contest this year. In the past, seeing television crews, Norelco, and other non-skate sponsor booths weren’t uncommon, but for 2003 Schaefer tried to avoid working with the corporate world. “We don’t market our events in the ‘extreme’ direction, either,” explains Schaefer. “I think next year we’ll try to incorporate a cool corporate sponsor, on our terms only, in hopes to get the purse bigger and better for our friends.”
This year’s 50,000-dollar purse was the biggest ever for Tampa Pro, thanks to title sponsors DVS, Shorty’s, and Spitfire, as well as other sponsors like Smith, World Industries, Baker, Lib Tech, Zoo York, and Ramp Armor.
Much to the crowd’s dismay, many of the “old reliables” were nowhere to be found. Skaters like Eric Koston, Mike Vallely, Kerry Getz, Andrew Reynolds, and Rob Dyrdek were MIA. But in their place were the pros of the future, which made the event quite different to watch (and surely to compete in) than previous years. Paul Rodriguez, Colt Cannon, Jereme Rogers, Zared Bassett, Greg Lutzka, Javier Sarmiento, Austin Seaholm, Ryan Sheckler, and many others killed it all weekend. Their performances, combined with Tony Trujillo’s sheer annihilation of everything, left everyone more than pleased. Also, with the addition of the team manager/VIP contest, there was enough variety to keep skaters of all generations entertained. Despite a bit of skepticism from industry people about the turnout, the Tampa Pro contest won’t die anytime soon. “It only gets better every year,” says Schaefer, “and I hope everyone would agree.”