What is a Skatepark?

A skatepark is an athletic facility. Designed and constructed specifically for skateboarders, in-line skaters and arguably freestyle BMX riders.

It offers a place to congregate, relax and perform skills in a safe environment. Ideally, it should have a fence to protect spectators. Lighting is a great addition.

For skateparks, concrete is the way to go. A concrete park offers a permanent and virtually maintenance-free solution to a cities skatepark needs. Plus, the majority of skaters prefer concrete parks. A ramp park, whether fabricated from wood, steel or other materials should be considered only if the municipality already has an unused basketball, tennis court or parking lot available. These types of ramp structures are for short term use only. There is no good reason to build this type of facility if there are sufficient resources for a permanent facility. Under no circumstances should a city pour a slab of concrete to build temporary ramps as the funds would be much better spent building a permanent concrete skatepark to begin with.

Most concrete skateparks will cost between 20 and 25 dollars (USD) per square foot to build. ($270 USD per meter) That cost figure typically includes all design fees and services, construction materials and labor. However, that is just the skating surface. That cost will not include common amenities, such as bringing water and power to the site, fencing, lighting, bathrooms or landscaping. In general, parks worth building cost a minimum of $250,000. Compared to the cost of other athletic facilities, that is quite reasonable.

A skatepark designed to meet all skill levels will be between 18,000 and 25,000 square feet. A park of 10,000 square feet is the absolute minimum recommended. It is important not to directly combine beginner and intermediate/advanced areas as this design approach tends to be unsafe and leads to more collisions. It is best to determine the variety of events and features required for each skill level and then design buffer zones between each riding area. We know it can be a blast to zip full tilt around a park that really flows. But, it is more important to be realistic and make the skatepark safe for all users at all times of day.

All parks must have beginner areas. A beginner area is a portion of the skatepark where individuals with limited or no experience can practice in a controlled environment. It is essential for beginners to be out of the skating area of intermediate and advanced skaters for their own safety, and the safety of others. A beginner area should be between 5,000 to 8,000 square feet and should have slow sloping areas with small hips, moguls, banks, curbs and rail slides that range in height eight inches to four feet

All parks need to have street elements that combine to form a street course. A street course tends to mimic obstacles and events that can be found in real life. It includes elements such as ledges, stairs and rails. It is this type of terrain that most non-skaters are familiar with. A street course can range in size from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet. A well designed street course will contain multiple events and the speed will range from slow to really fast. Some of the events can be transitions, vert walls, large banks and flat bank surfaces that have ledges, stairs, rails and curbs built into them so that a skater can interact and negotiate these obstacles. The design must have plenty of space where a skater can make a trick and then have 8 to 10 lines to choose from after the maneuver is completed. The most common mistake made in skatepark design is trying to pack too much into a small space.

It is most beneficial for a municipality to have the goal of building multiple parks and locating them around the city, rather than building one large facility. The concept of satellite parks best serves the users of the facilities and substantially decreases overcrowding at any one park. In many instances, skaters are too young to drive, and other forms of safe transportation to the one large skatepark may be unavailable. For a lot of communities a series of modestly sized “neighborhood” parks is a more feasible long-range solution to their skatepark needs.

Written by Anthony Gembeck