“I consider skateboarding an art form, a lifestyle and a sport.” Tony Hawk
With the recent demolition of the downtown skatepark in Birmingham, Alabama, one might question the city’s prejudices. Baseball certainly has its place, and Birmingham enjoyed the season when Michael Jordan brought more fans to see the Barons. However, in choosing the new location for the minor-league ballpark, we’ve demolished the site where Birmingham’s skateboarders go to get noticed and hopefully to become pro-skaters.
Other than monetary gain, our stereotype for skateboarders might be a part of the problem. We often see these guys as a bunch of vagabonds who wish to destroy the town by riding the stair rails, doing drugs, and plastering graffiti on downtown brick walls and tunnels. Who cares about them anyway?
So I ask you, dear Birmingham, where will these skaters go now? The Birmingham Railroad Park built what they considered a skatepark, and since it didn’t meet their needs, the skaters made their own park right across the street. This park, however, included appropriate ramps, bars, and rails that the skaters could use to practice tricks, jumps, and grinds. In essence, they made a place to contain themselves so that they could get the practice they needed without vandalising the city. They don’t require an audience like the Barons, but they do need certain types of equipment which were not considered by the Railroad Park.
Since I was born and raised in and around the Birmingham area, I consider myself in the know about our city. My son, however, is just now developing a love for Birmingham since he has spent his years in the big city of Bangkok, Thailand, where he enjoys skateboarding with many of his friends in several of our public parks. He has worked with our slum ministry and loves helping people. He is a decent guy who skates.
Birmingham, would we consider a place where both minor-league baseball players and minor-league skateboarders could both excel and practice? Could we once again look past your prejudices and see the skateboarders as a group of decent guys who skate? Could we provide a place for them just as we are providing for our baseball players?
We’ve worked through difficult times in the past, and here’s another chance for us to shine. What do you say?