The first skatepark I ever skated was Mike McGill’s in Carlsbad, California, and you know what they had there? Mini ramps. Lots of mini ramps: hipped mini ramps, spined mini ramps, and–oh yeah–a vert ramp. The place wasn’t that big–hell, they built it on an old catfish farm. The original empty fish ponds that remained were a fun break from masonite trannies.
Today’s private skateparks, however, need a whole lot more than just mini ramps and fish ponds to appease the street-hungry masses. The roll-in-to-funbox-to-roll-in setup (sometimes referred to as “The W” or “Death Valley”) quickly became the norm for skatepark street courses as evidenced by the Vans park in Orange and Rob Dyrdek’s TF. It’s been rapidly progressing ever since with parks trying to copy the aggressive Euro-contest courses and involving more real street obstacles, as the streets are becoming more illegal to skate. The following are a handful of private parks from around the globe and what they’re doing to keep skaters stoked on skateparks.
Department Of Skateboarding, Portland, Oregon
You’ve got rain, and then you’ve got Burnside. What’s a street skater to do? Well, the good people at Cal’s Pharmacy Boardshop opened up this street-oriented park in April of this year. Built by Paul Anderson, Ben Moore, Mike Richardson, Jason White, Kyle Reynolds, Dan Garland, and others, they made sure to give the park authentic street obstacles. Banks, ledges, and gaps abound in a creative multilevel/plaza setup. Then there–s the crowning jewel–a perfect set of seven stairs with an exact replica of the famous Wilshire rail in L.A., adjacent to a cement Hubba. Does it get any better than this for today’s rail dogs? A perfect indoor Hubba and rail to train on bust-free.
Now, you didn’t think Oregon skaters were going to make a completely tranny-free park with all that space, did you? Being the purists that they are, they made a nice wooden kidney bowl with shallow and deep ends, complete with tile below the coping. The next time you get sick of Burnside and it’s still raining, check this place out at 15 NE Hancock Street; phone: (503) 493-9480; departmentofskateboarding.com.
Extreme Sports Palace, Dexter, Michigan
Due to skateboarding’s outlaw status in Ann Arbor, Michigan, neighboring city Dexter opened up this 24,000-square-foot indoor park. Built by Mel Durand of the Toledo-based Suburban Rails skatepark-construction company, it’s all wood ramps covered with Skatelite. With a mix of skaters–and unfortunately in-liners–to appeal to, the park mixes up your typical quarters, banks, mini ramps, funboxes, and rails. They range in size for beginners on up to rippers. They utilized the space well for creative lines, avoiding the dreaded congestion of the back and forth “W.” Check ‘em at 7275 Joy Road in Dexter; phone (734) 424-9705;extremesportspalace.com.
Mission Valley YMCA Skatepark, San Diego, California
You can fit a lot of skateable shit into 53,000 square feet. Here’s how the Y did it: Most of those square feet are the street course–it’s freakin’ huge. It looks a lot like the European contest setups with really wide roll-ins and funboxes, and a variety of ledges and rails. The enormous platforms of the roll-ins have their own street obstacles on top of them for complete anti-tranny sessions. Transfers and lines are literally infinite. Then there’s the thirteen-foot vert ramp. All of this is wood, Skatelite, and outdoors, because hey, it’s San Diego we’re talking about. Don’t forget the cement pool, too. It’s an eight-foot shallow square waterfalling into a ten-foot-deep round at a right-hand kidney angle. Pool guys love this thing, more so than the Combi replica at Vans in Orange. On any day you can catch Neil Blender, Tony Alva, Lance Mountain, and Jeff Grosso sessioning. Lots of speed and lots of lines. 3401 Clairemont Drive; phone: (619) 279-9254; missionvalley.ymca.org.
The Source Skatepark, Calgary, Albeerta, Canada
The largest indoor skatepark in Canada, and they have all the 2002 Slam City Jam ramps. There’s nothing more to know, but I’ll go on anyway. They’ve got an entire kids’ park for beginners, an intermediate street course (typical “W,” but very spacious and option-laden), and then, of course, the Slam City setup. Inside a 50,000-square-foot warehouse, the ramps are made of plywood with MDF topsheets. Skateboard Canada magazine even admitted, “It’s confirmed: Calgary, Alberta will be the new skate mecca.” Acquiring entire contest courses seems like a genius way to get skaters into your park–a sign of the future? Building H4 2732 Falaise Avenue SW; phone: (403) 802-1200; thesourceskateboards.com.
Rampworx, Liverpool, England
The skate scene in Liverpool is both infamous and unique, and they’ve got Rampworx, one of Europe’s largest indoor parks–55,000 square feet–to handle it. It’s all wood, and because it also accommodates BMX and in-liners, there’s a lot of transition. Big kickers, tabletops, wallrides, mini ramps, and a vert ramp. They?ve just recently put in a nice capsule bowl varying in heights that looks to be the best part of the park. BMXers and Rollerblades just can’t have as much fun in bowls as skaters. 1-3 Leckwith Road, Netherton, Liverpool; phone: 0151-530-1500; rampworx.com.