One man travelled thousands of miles to be at the opening of Britain's first skate plaza.
American Barry Peterson, from Minnesota, was in town with professional skateboarding friends to try out the new facility at Prissick Park, Middlesbrough.
And the 23-year-old was impressed.
"This is a really good park and compares really well with parks we have back home," he said. "It is definitely up there with the street parks in the States."
Barry was among hundreds who flocked to the opening of the pounds 500,000 facility on Saturday.
Middlesbrough Council leisure chiefs are confident the venue, which also includes BMX facilities, will put the town on the sporting map.
They believe the plaza, on Marton Road, could be a training site for the 2012 London Olympic games where urban sports are to be among the events.
The park received a glowing report from visitors.
James Hart, 16, of Fairfield, Stockton, said: "It's great. It has a lot of ledges and a lot of stuff to do.
"It is about time we had somewhere like this. I think it will become very popular."
Darlington-based skater Richard Stainthorpe, 25, was also full of praise.
"It is fantastic. It is based on top quality parks in the US and Barcelona - it is really innovative," he said.
"Hopefully, it might get more people into skating that haven't thought about it before. It is long overdue."
Some of the world's most famous skateboard spots are recreated at Prissick including the Love Park Stairs in Philadelphia and the Macba Gap at Barcelona.
A local group of skateboarders and BMX enthusiasts worked with the council's Streetscene and Design Services to turn their ideas into reality.
Tim Watton, the council's extreme sports development officer, said: "I see this as a great opportunity for local kids to get fit though access to a top class urban sports facility equalling the best in the USA."
The Prissick Plaza will be open each day from 9am to 9pm. Admission free.
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|Title Annotation:||News Local|
|Publication:||Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)|
|Date:||Nov 7, 2005|
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