Increase Engagement, Raise Awareness, and Generate Revenue
So, you and your community have put in a lot of hours (and money) to finally get a skatepark built. But now what? Unlike most traditional sports facilities you’ll build in your town, action sports do not have much in the way of sanctioning bodies, local organizers or really, much structure at all. While that is one of the best reasons to build a skatepark, as it engages youths who are often left out of other mainstream sports, it also leaves you with a big investment and very little tangible return.
How do you really maximize your skatepark then? Here are some tips.
Being that the action sports are a truly individual sport it is hard for beginners to get out and take their first spin safely. There aren’t age leveled teams for them to start from as early as preschool, there aren’t school sponsored teams and, although a shift is starting to begin, most parents have never been involved in action sports so they won’t be much help to a newbie.
Lessons are a great way to encourage kids to get involved in the sport and your park. It prevents the frustration that accompanies learning something new and promotes safety, both will have a long term impact on the participant and their parents. If you don’t know of an instructor in your area, try placing an ad in the local paper, searching online or asking your local skateboard shop. Lesson concepts to consider: proper safety techniques, park etiquette and ramp tricks for beginners. Be sure to promote protective gear at your lesson, helmet, elbow pads, and kneepads are a great way to keep kids skating longer.
There are camps for just about anything, and when you build any great park (skatepark or not), it is often a large part of what you can offer. One of the biggest benefits to these camps is they can often engage that age group that is just beyond your typical camp crowd. Imagine having a line of 13, 14, and 15 year olds wanting to sign up for your parks programs. It’s becoming harder to engage those kids and a skatepark is the prime way. Camps don’t require much, the kids just want to skate with their friends and get some tips along the way. All you need are a few good instructors and someone to keep it all in line. Camps can be one day programs on the weekends, multi day camps or week long programs in the summer. Pump up the value by offering branded t-shirts, water bottles, etc. and be sure you have some type of camper showcase at the end of the program so parents can come see what they’re paying for.
Want to see the park fill up for weeks on end? Set up a contest and watch participation ramp up each day the contest draws closer. If you make it an annual event kids will reward you with both their patronage and the amount of social buzz they create. Reach out to local skateboard shops and regulars at the park to help organize it. They can help with judging, contest structure, and most importantly they will help spread the word. The one caveat to having the locals kids or a local skateshop involved is that there can often be some favoritism when it comes to judging and contest organization. The best way to prevent this is to ask multiple shops and local skaters to work together rather than giving all the control to one person or group.
Demos, or professional exhibitions, are always a big hit with the local skaters and you will also find that many skaters will travel long distances to see one of their favorite athletes. Often times these are done at your park without your knowledge. Skateboard teams travelling across the country will set up demos at local parks and just let their fans or followers know. This is typically more than enough marketing to make their event a hit and get the locals there buy generic flagyl. If you hear about this type of thing make sure to reach out to the team and offer to help. You can set up a BBQ, have some free water on hand or even get a local news station out for the event. All will help position your park as a destination and you’ll get to piggyback on an event for little to no cost.
If you want to actively seek out pro teams to come through it can be as easy as sending a few emails. Skateboard companies are always looking for cheap ways to market their brands and if you’ve got a great park they may add it to a tour or even make a special trip to skate it. If you’ve got some money to put into it (a couple hundred dollars is often all it takes) teams are likely to take a detour to your park.
Some skateparks may have the opportunity for private rentals. It’s tough to do if there aren’t set hours or the ability to close the park off but if you find a day or two a week that the park is getting used less you can potentially set it up for rentals. The easiest way to have rentals is with an adjacent pavilion or building. You can offer it up for parties and special events without closing the park off to the public. Charge a small fee to reserve and clean up the area to be used but beyond that don’t try to make it a big revenue generator. Things like this increase patron involvement and engage families and spectators alike so it’s just another benefit you can promote with your park.
Remember the Spectator
You’ll find a lot more non-participants stopping by your skatepark than any other park in your community, and for good reason. The action sports are exciting and take very little knowledge of the sport to understand the skill it takes to do. Make sure you’ve got a seating area, plenty of parking and easy access in and out of your park so it’s inviting to more than just participants. Parents will also be more inclined to let their kids stay longer if it’s comfortable for them to watch. Seating is a must too for competitions and events, just be sure the viewing area is detached from the skating area and separated by a fence or large space. Fencing is best, as it ensures the safety of spectators and creates a clear understanding that they are not welcome on the course if they’re just watching.
Find a few locals, preferably from a range of ages and make them “Park Ambassadors”. You can set up a private facebook group to communicate with them (don’t worry, they’ll often just be talking to each other and you can just chime in as needed) or just use email or even face to face meetings if you’d like. The idea is that if you have locals that ride the park regularly they’ll be in touch with what the patrons want from the park, keep you up to date with damage and needed repairs, be the eyes and ears of the park to report any problems, and more. Trust me, these kids will know a lot more about what’s going on in skateboarding and the local “scene” than you could ever glean from google searches and board meetings. Often you can help these kids out with community service and give them a real sense of ownership in both their skatepark and the city as a whole.
Skateboarding and skateparks are truly the free and wild when it comes to mainstream sports facilities. While this can be hard to harness it also allows you to get creative. Do some google searching, ask other communities that have parks, and talk to the kids, you’ll find everyone has different experience and different ideas that can can be blended into unique events for your facility. Just think safety and inclusiveness, everything else is really up to you. Remember, if you’re promoting fun at your skatepark, the kids will respond.
If all these ideas sound great but you just don’t want to add another thing to your plate, reach out to someone that has the experience and offers the services you need. My company, P9 Entertainment offers all of these services and more. After spending 10 years in the private skatepark business I saw the trend in public skateparks growing year after year. My goal is to offer all of the great activities we offered at our private park to all of the public skateparks that are opening up across the country. Learn more at www.p9entertianment.com.