Vans Expands Skatepark Program

Success of its So Cal park accelerates plans for additional facilities.

Vans opened another monster-sized skatepark in August, providing California’s Central Valley with a 59,000-square-foot sister to the original Vans Skatepark, which opened in Orange, California last November. The success of the Orange park has influenced the company to accelerate its plans to open several more parks across the country, each built with a unique design.

The Bakersfield Vans Skatepark is the largest of the two and includes a 51,000-square-foot indoor street course; an intermediate bowl, which connects to a 10.5-foot in-ground capsule pool; a 48-foot-wide mini ramp; a 48-foot-wide vert ramp; a pee-wee street course and bowl for beginners; an 8,000-square-foot outdoor street course; as well as an on-site Vans retail store. The park was designed and constructed by Rick Carje, Barrett “Chicken” Deck, Rob-O Ramps,L.L.C., 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.”

The day before the park officially opened in early August, Vans hosted a VIP skate party with pros representing every era of skateboarding. Congregating around the capsule pool, Tony Alva, Dave Hackett, Steve “Bulky” Olson, Lance Mountain, John Lucero, Jeff Grosso, and others took turns and skated doubles in the pool designed as an updated version of the famous Big O Skatepark capsule of the early 80s. The man of the day was Jeff Grosso, whose channel airs, channel plants, and sliders around the end of the pool received standing ovations.

The street course was broken in by pros Ray Barbee, Karma Tsocheff, Crazy Eddie Nemeth, Jason Adams, Paul Machnau, Aaron Harrison, Eric Dressen, Richard Paez, and others. In contrast to the Orange park’s indoor street area, Bakersfield’s is much larger and open. Flat banks on the back of the mini ramp also allow for easy access to and from the street course. The outdoor street course features concrete banks, bumps, and ledges, plus several flat-bank ramps.

In a change of plans, Vans also announced that the third Vans Skatepark, originally planned for the San Francisco Bay Area, will actually open in Ontario, California. Scheduled to open November 1, the 60,000-square-foot skatepark in the Ontario Mills shopping mall will include three in-ground concrete bowls (a snakerun with a bowl, an intermediate bowl, and a pee-wee egg-shaped bowl), a 20,000-square-foot indoor street course, an expanded area for pee-wee and beginning skaters, and an indoor/outdoor BMX facility. Other facilities include a retail shop, a mezzanine suspended through the middle of the park, and a Gameworks interactive arcade.

Including the Ontario, California park, five new Vans Skateparks are currently slated to open. Steve Caballero is helping design the Milpitas, California park, which is scheduled to open within the next nine months. Other sites include Orlando, Florida, a Virginia suburb of Washington D.C., and Toronto, Canada.