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Utah could soon house the only Olympic-grade skateboard park in North America

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, KSL | Posted - Feb 9th, 2019 @ 7:25pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Teenagers and young adults may get a chance to hone their skateboard moves if lawmakers agree to pitch in $300,000 for the construction of an Olympic-quality skateboard park at the Utah State fairgrounds.

If they fund the proposal brought by Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, it will mean Utah will be home to the only North American Olympic-grade park.

McKell, who presented the request Thursday to members of the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee, said it represents a unique opportunity for the state, and even for him as a lawmaker to pitch the project.

"I've never been on a skateboard my entire life," McKell admitted, and then forged ahead to detail the benefits of a funding partnership with Vans, a U.S.-based manufacturer of skateboards and related apparel.

"I would urge you to prioritize this," he said. "The next Olympian will potentially train at our skate park."

Larry Mullenax, executive director of the Utah State Fairpark, said the largest skateboard competitions are currently held in Brazil, but that would change with the right style of venue in North America, notably Utah.

Skateboarding will make its debut as a competitive sport in the Olympics in 2020, and competitive trials will stoke Utah's economy, he added.

The Utah Sports Commission's Jeff Robbins predicts such a large-scale competitive show would generate $4 million locally and add another $8 million in value from media exposure.

Jared McClure skateboards at the skate park at Jordan Park on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo: Laura Seitz, KSL)

Mullenax said the Utah State Fairpark already has a good working relationship with Vans through sponsoring the Vans Warped Tour for more than 21 years.

Vans approached the state fairgrounds about entering into partnership on the construction of an Olympic-caliber skateboard park to bring what Mullanex described as the largest, richest skateboarding event in the world, paying $600,000 to the winner.

It would be a draw for Olympic hopefuls, he added.

"So if you are anywhere in the Northern hemisphere and you want to train for the Olympics, you are going to have to come to the fairpark."

Vans would contribute $200,000 for the park's construction and the premiere competitive event would be held in September during the Utah State Fair, generating $225,000 in new revenue, Mullenax said.

In an earlier statement, Bobby Gascon, global director of action sports for Vans, said the partnership with the state fairpark and the sports commission gives Utah and the United States a chance to shine.

"We are thrilled to partner with both entities in producing the first park terrain World Championships on American soil, but most importantly, leave behind a state-of-the-art park terrain skate park for the community to enjoy."

During another general discussion about the Utah State Fairpark, Mullenax noted the standout season the fair enjoyed last year.

Fair attendance was 283,462, an increase of 10 percent from the year before. Food and beverage gross revenue was $2.2 million, or a 31 percent increase over 2017.

Total gross fair revenue came in at $3.9 million, up 38 percent. Net earnings were $1.5 million, or a 101 percent increase.

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