Salt Lake City, Utah, hosts the first of three stops on the 2021 Street League Skateboarding (SLS) Championship Tour this weekend, with the world’s best male and female skaters competing in the final on Saturday, August 28.
But after SLS and their skaters have packed their bags and left town, the skatepark they competed on will remain in Salt Lake City for the local community to enjoy and hopefully host another great skateboarding competition soon. of street.
In a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning, the park was inaugurated by Vans Senior Director of Global Marketing (Action Sports) Bobby Gascon; Tony Hawk, who joined Vans as Ambassador in 2020; and Jeff Robbins, CEO and Chairman of the Utah Sports Commission. The three parties worked together to bring the park to Salt Lake City, located right next to the Vans-Utah Sports Commission skatepark, a former park course designed and built for the Utah community by Vans and California Skateparks.
Stakeholders also worked with SLS to have the first circuit of the 2021 Championship stop the inaugural event to be held on the new street course.
Having two permanent and legacy skateparks in Salt Lake City is a goal that dates back to Salt Lake City which hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002. After that event, Robbins, who founded the Utah Sports Commission there is over 20 years old, wanted to make Salt Lake City a must-see destination for action sports events, summer and winter.
“[The SLS Championship Tour event] will be the biggest skateboarding event in the world after the Olympics, and [the event is] able to give skateboarding a boost and capitalize on that Olympic notoriety instead of calming down, ”Robbins told me on Friday. Serving as the “mediator that brought all parties together,” Robbins said the parties were ultimately able to put aside differences in business models and ethics to build the park in time to host the SLS tour event.
The Utah Sports Commission hosted nearly 50 bubble events during Covid in 2020 – one of the first sports bubbles created, long before the NBA and NHL playoffs – generating an economic impact of 49 million of dollars. There was no model, no plan. So, to organize an event in August 2021 where fans could attend, unlike the Tokyo Olympics, where skateboarding made its debut in July, Robbins felt his team had the experience to do so safely, not to mention a brand new skatepark. to start.
“There are so many reasons to do this,” Robbins said. “Athletes need a break, our citizens need a break. I do all kinds of things here, but I have a thing for skateboarding and action sports.
The Utah Athletic Commission shared the cost of building the bowl park that was donated in 2019 with Vans. For the new street park, the state of Utah provided the bulk of the funding, using a public-private model. Over 750 taxpayers and community members were able to offer a unique amount of commentary on the construction of the park through Vans outlets in the Greater Salt Lake City area.
In this way, the goals of the public, the goals of the skateboarders, and the goals of the state all fit together.
The economic impact, image creation and brand awareness for the State of Utah, which has registered the State of Sport slogan in its quest to become a global destination for action sports competitions, are invaluable.
Skateboarders can have a direct impact on the characteristics of the permanent park. For example, rails, stairs, and other obstacles on the course are mirrored perfectly, providing an equal advantage to runners with normal and clumsy feet. And community members are enjoying a new public park that could perhaps allow their city to produce the next great Olympic skateboarder.
According to Robbins, Utah per capita has the youngest demographic in the country. “Action sports have always been something that resonated here,” said Robbins. “We’ve had seven Dew Tours, we’ve had Rampages, we’ve had rallycross, we’ve had Nitro; all these action sports and skateboarding events. It fits our demographics very well.
The accessibility that the two parks now offer could accelerate the development of future professional skateboarders in Salt Lake City. “You have the incubator to encourage the next Olympians and really just so that the best talent in the world is prepared and supported by Salt Lake City,” Gascon said. “I wouldn’t be surprised, on the road you will certainly see skateboarders from all over the world choosing Salt Lake City as their home not only to train and enjoy the facilities, but also for all that Salt Lake City has to offer.”
According to Gascon, the inauguration of the street park is still seen as a “phase one” in the expansion of the initiative that saw Vans build the park course in 2019. Some elements of the street course are still missing, but phase two will achieve this. , as well as incorporating more community feedback.
The bowl park built in Salt Lake City in 2019 was the fifth of a total of five parks built by Vans around the world to host its Park Series competitions. Being able to leave the community with a free and accessible park after the organization of events is a fundamental principle of the Vans philosophy. “There is something about having an event where the following Monday is a field of dirt or damaged grass,” Gascon said. “For me, I said during Park Series, the real win or the highlight of the event is when this park is handed over to the community.”
As part of his role as Ambassador to Vans, Hawk builds on the work he already does with his foundation, The Skatepark Project, to help provide access to skateparks in many communities across the United States and abroad.
“It’s the most important job I do and definitely the most proud thing in my career, bringing skate facilities to underserved areas,” Hawk told me. “This has been the mission of our foundation for almost 20 years. I love that. I am so grateful to be partnering with Vans because they are helping to grow much further than I ever imagined.
Why return to Salt Lake City? Per Gascon, Robbins and the Utah Sports Commission were “hubs” because of their shared vision of the role of skateboarding in the Salt Lake City community.
“This is the # 5 park we built around the world for the Park Series, but with Jeff it didn’t stop there – it was, ‘What’s next and how can we to make sure we continue to develop skateboarding? “Said Gascon.” His vision and commitment to skateboarding well was really amazing to see and how respectful he was in making sure skateboarding was respected. It wasn’t just about the skateboarding. event, it was the legacy for the community with the park, and then after that, it was, okay, what are we going to do for the street? “
The park course and the street course were built by California Skateparks. On Friday, the street course hosted its very first competition with the men’s and women’s preliminaries of the SLS Championship Tour. The champions will be crowned in the finals on Saturday. It was essential for the Utah Athletic Commission that the events be free to the public; as a Covid mitigation, their capacity was limited on a first come, first served basis.
In addition to the SLS Championship Tour stoppage, the Utah State Fairpark also hosts the inaugural Tony Hawk’s Green Alert on Saturday, a green contest that Hawk has partnered with Vans to host. Friday saw the Green Alert Legends demo, where the biggest names in green skateboarding history, from Hawk to Steve Caballero to Christian Hosoi to Bob Burnquist to Andy Macdonald, all made their way to Hawk’s Green Ramp, which it shipped to Salt Lake City from its warehouse outside. San Diego, to show off their ever-impressive skills.
In the two decades between hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics and hosting this weekend’s SLS Championship stop, the Utah Athletic Commission has overseen some 1,000 events. Robbins credits this prolific production to partnerships, like the one his organization enjoys with Vans.
“No one ever does something great without a lot of great partners and collaboration,” Robbins said.