by Dan Wing
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A project more than a decade in the works finally came to fruition Wednesday when city officials, organizers, and hundreds of residents cut the ribbon on Philadelphia’s new skatepark.
Paine’s Park was packed as local skaters, along with some of the best in the world, broke in their new home.
With a D.J. pumping out music, and food trucks offering up the refreshments, skaters were “breaking in” their newest hangout, which is just a stone’s throw from the Art Museum off Eakins Oval.
Among the estimated crowd of 500 were 3-time X-Games Gold Medalist Chris Cole, and fellow pros Tom Asta and Kerry Getz. Cole, who grew up just about a half hour north of the city, says a park like this goes a long way towards preserving the future of skateboarding in the area.
“There’s going to be more kids that get to skateboard, because their parents will let them come down here,” said Cole. “It’ll breed the sport more. They’ll have friends here, they’ll meet up and they’ll skate and get better. And they’ll just always have a place to count on.”
So how does Paine’s Park hold up when compared to skateparks around the country? According to Cole, pretty well.
“It’s real unique in that everything isn’t the same on the other side,” said Cole. “A lot of skateparks are built so you can hit the left-side handrail, the right-side handrail. And this thing is built like a real street plaza where, you know, some things aren’t even.”
The park is more than 10 years in the making, and the Executive Director of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund Clare Laver, a driving force behind the park’s inception, says when the city banned skating at Love Park, it left skaters with one question.
“Well, where are we supposed to go? I mean this was an internationally recognized skateboarding Mecca, Love Park was. So when you take that away, you need to replace it with something. Not that Love is ever replaceable,” said Laver.
Laver also says this is hopefully just the first of many.
“We might not have two-and-a-half acres everywhere to work with, but we’ve done a lot with 10,000 square feet and we’re trying to replicate that all over the city,” said Laver.