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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
City and County hold groundbreaking for new skate park
Knoxville Skatepark
August 8, 2007 - The City of Knoxville and Knox County began turning skateboarders' dreams into a reality today by breaking ground for the new Knoxville Skatepark.

The long-awaited 15,000-square-foot skate park - that will include urban terrain like stairs, rails, ramps and ledges among other features - is being built in the city's Tyson Park.

Construction on the $537,000 project is expected to last three-to-four months and the park could be open as early as late fall. It will be free and open to the public.

"This is a day a lot of people have waited a long time to see and I'm so pleased that we're ready to start construction," said Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. "It's an example of the great things that can be done when governments and citizens work together. It was a unique partnership between skateboarders and government, two groups you don't typically see hanging out, that made this happen."

Knoxville Skatepark Groundbreaking
Groundbreaking for Knoxville Skatepark

"It's going to be a great skate park that will bring a lot of joy to athletes and performers who really haven't had many places to practice their sport," he added.

Click for larger image
Click for larger image

The new facility is being built by highly regarded skate park designer Wally Hollyday, whose California-based firm has built more than 100 skate parks across the United States. Hollyday took part in Wednesday's groundbreaking.

The City of Knoxville and Knox County each provided $200,000 for the project while Lamar Advertising gave $100,000 toward its construction and the Tony Hawk Foundation kicked in an additional $25,000.

Individual supporters and groups also donated several thousand additional dollars for the park.

The idea for the park has been around for several years and local skateboarders engaged in an intense lobbying campaign supporting it.

The park became more than an idea in 2005 when Haslam included the $200,000 appropriation for a skate park in the city's 2006-07 budget and Ragsdale soon matched that in the county's budget.

Lamar followed with its contribution.

"Kids didn't have a place to skate," said Brian Beauchene, a skateboarder who owns Pluto Sports, "and this provides a place for kids to skate where parents are comfortable with them skating."

Beauchene said the Knoxville Skatepark would draw skaters from across East Tennessee in addition to the skateboarding population in Knoxville and Knox County, which probably numbers in the low thousands.

Beauchene and skateboarders Nate Holder and Jay Cabler were key members of the Knoxville Skatepark Task Force, which was formed to help develop the park.

Help Support the Knoxville SkateparkCity Councilman Chris Woodhull was heavily involved in the effort to develop a skate park and co-chaired the task force along with Knox County Parks Director Doug Bataille.

Bataille and Joe Walsh, deputy director of the city's parks and recreation division, also worked closely together to develop the park.

"Doug and I organized the skate park task force to make some decisions about where it would be and what it would look like," Woodhull said. "We wanted to find out about the different concerns out there."

Woodhull indicated that the diverse group synthesized all the different ideas about the proposed skate park into something uniquely suited to Knoxville.

This is the first phase of a skate park, which is expected to grow over time.

"Sometimes we don't hear the needs of our young people as well as we should," Ragsdale said. "I'm proud to say that we heard them and the result will be a wonderful and safe place for both the young and young-at-heart skateboarders."

For more information about the Knoxville Skatepark please visit www.knoxvilleskatepark.com.

For Immediate Release
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