Photo: Spohn Ranch
In spite of being one of the most nature-dependent sports in the world, surfing seems to be growing at an exponential rate. As surf park technology also grows, it’s only matter of time before current and future surf enthusiasts will gain access to perfect waves without going to the beach or waiting for the next swell. As we enter this emerging sector and phase of growth in the industry, it’s wise to look at history for clues of how best to grow the sport and culture around it.
A History of Cross-Pollination
At its origins, skateboarding evolved out of a need to do something when the waves went flat. It was an activity largely created by (or at least made stylish/popular by) surfers. In the ‘50s you could say with some measure of confidence that most “skaters” were really surfers looking to kill time, and not vice-versa. Today though, skateboarding has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and “surfing a concrete wave” has become a significant part of surf culture.
Surfing and skating have thus become simultaneously exclusive and heavily incorporated at the same time since the ‘50s. In other words, these days it’s common for skaters to surf and for surfers to skate. The crossover between the two is ample and the benefits that each has on the other are similarly large.
So while the answer may be obvious for a surfer/skater or skater/surfer, it’s important to ask the question:
Why Incorporate a Skatepark into the Surf Park Concept?
Learning to read the waves is something you won’t pick up in the skatepark, but an entry-level surfer will learn proper placement of feet, turning, and balance. For advanced surfers, the skatepark is not only a fun place to hang out with friends, but it’s an essential tool for training. Surfing has advanced to such an acrobatic level that training has taken on a gymnastic feel. Surfers are now using skateboard ramps with foam pits to perfect aerial maneuvers. The ability to take new tricks and create better balance on the water means that skateparks are a sound investment to any surf park project.
Furthermore, a surf park can only handle a limited number of surfers per hour. Although the wave is controlled and the wave count is above that of what surfers encounter in the ocean, the fact remains that you can safely sustain only a limited number of surfers per hour. That said, the future of surf parks is likely rooted in complete entertainment centers.
Offering a full entertainment facility that gives customers a variety of activities all sharing a connection with surfing in some way is a logical solution. Skateparks all over the world are the most used piece of property per square foot at any park and recreation facility. Having benefits that resonate with both surf park owners (financially) and surf park customers (training/developmentally) will make skateparks a norm at any high quality surf park.
Thinking of Building? Here are Some FAQs to Consider
Q: What’s it going to cost to add a skatepark to the surf park?
A: As skatepark technology has advanced over the years, the design and build costs have decreased. One can choose from modular ramps, poured in place concrete, or pre-cast concrete. Furthermore, the developer can choose to build a skate spot, skate plaza, skatepark, or other skate-based surf training areas.
The bottom line though, is that if you are working with the right design/build firm you can get an efficient skatepark that fits your budget. A skatepark can cost as little as $25,000 and go above $1,000,000. In the case of surf parks, since you will already be undertaking a large construction project there will be plenty of construction efficiencies that will lead to an overall cost savings.
Q: Will the addition of a skateboard park add to issues of liability?
A: No – There are insurance companies in the marketplace that are competitively quoting insurance for such activities. The average municipal park simply posts rules and regulations along with a “skate at your own risk” sign and does not assume any liability.
Q: Is the addition of a skateboard park the best way to maximize ROI?
A: Yes – Skateboarding has been a growing entity for over 50 year now. Statistics show in overwhelming numbers that most surfers own, ride, and wear skateboard branded products. The skateboard industry puts over $2.5 billion dollars into the global economy. Surf parks need to capitalize and get their share of the pie.
Q: Do I need to have a training facility?
A: No – The bottom line is that you don’t need to have skateboard ramps with a foam pit training area, but you should listen to your customer base and they are looking for places to train. So, although a training facility is not necessary to run a surf park, not having a training area may hurt your bottom line.
Q: Can’t I just get my landscape architect to design a park and have my construction team build it?
A: No – Having a skatepark design/build firm behind your project will ensure the needs of the end users will be met. Do not allow your construction team to build a skatepark off of a set of blueprints. Professional skatepark builders are artists; they know the proper process and they have specialized tools to perfect the shaping of a skatepark.
To learn more about skateparks and options in design/build, visit www.spohnranch.com.
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