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Get some: Vans' latest skatepark creation is ready & waitin' in Phoenix.

Between the end of the first skatepark era in the mid- and late-'70s until very recently, all mast skaters wanted was a hassle-free place to skate. Pool riding remained, but backyard ramps and street skating took off. We in Seattle had no parks or good indoor spots to speak of, so we took off to skate Kevin Harris' Richmond Skateranch, which was two hours away. Sure, you had to pay a little and wear pads, but it was indoor and hassle-free. Now that there has been an explosion of outdoor parks--the majority of them free with no pad requirements-- it is necessary to ask if indoor, pay-to-skate parks are still relevant

Vans thinks it has the answer. At a furious pace, Vans has been building parks all over the shopping malls of all places. The parks are coupled with large retail outfits, which is probably where they make the bulk of their money. Many of the parks feature cement bowls, often replicas of old skateparks such as Upland's Combi or Colton's Clam.

Phoenix is home to one of the newest parks, in the down-scale Metrocenter Mall. When the park opened, a bunch of Vans guys and others came to town to shred and generally raise hell, and then the place settled into normal operation. Unfortunately there is no pool at this one, so the old slashdogs and barneys who show up once a week to the other Vans parks will be absent. The Street course is of the fairly generic banks/ledges/rails/quarter pipes, and there's even an area for the littlest of rippers. Unfortunately there are beams that you've gotta dodge about every 20 feet throughout the course, which is a pain in the ass. There's a good vert ramp, 32-feet-wide and maybe 11-feet-tall, but the best thing there is the mid-sized wood bowl with a few corners and hips. The design is good and the construction well done.

Vans parks are geared toward younger skaters, with the exception of the bowls. Skate moms can drop their kids off at the park, pay the entry, and go shop for two hours while junior skates in a supervised environment. The older one gets, the more of a stretch it is--especially considering the blaring soundtrack of No Doubt, inspirational snowboard-inspired rock, and the fact that there's all sorts of mall lurkers staring at you through the fence, but I think it can be good for kids. Plus, when they get older, they'll figure out that there are other places to skate. Vans parks are definitely filling a niche. It's too bad the Phoenix park has no 'crete, but it could be a good place for kids to start. Given the recent failure of the $1,000,000 STD skatepark debacle and the presence of outdoor cement, it is hard to say if Phoenix is ready or willing for an indoor park. I guess if anyone can pull it, it's gonna be Vans.
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Author:Lundry, Wez
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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