By the time San Diego city officials opened the gates Tuesday morning at the new Linda Vista skateboard park, much of the orange paint was already worn off by skaters who just couldn’t wait to grind its many railings and steps.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Council members Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf, a representative from the Tony Hawk Foundation, professional skateboarders and others gathered in Linda Vista Community Park for the grand opening of the largest skate park in San Diego County. At 34,000 square feet, the park is billed as one of the largest in the state.
“This is a world class skate park, and it’s going to challenge skaters of all levels like only a top-notch park can,” Faulconer said during remarks at Tuesday’s ceremony.
“They tried to actually keep a few folks out of the park while it was being built,” Faulconer said later in his remarks. “It didn’t work.”
For months, skaters had been scaling the park’s fence to ride the competition-level course near the intersection of Osler Street and Genesee Avenue. When officials opened the gates on Tuesday, amateur and professional skateboarders streamed inside.
Onlookers watched from a bridge over the skate park as some of skateboarding’s big names and rising talent took turns dropping into the large, pool-like bowl to show off their skills.
Steve Caballero, a famous skateboarder known for tricks and variations he invented, skated the bowl Tuesday. In 1987, he set a world record for highest air on a halfpipe. His record held for a decade.
The Linda Vista skate park has a full pipe, according to information provided at Tuesday’s event. It also has a 50-foot bowl resembling an empty swimming pool, various shallow bowls of different shapes and about 20,000 feet of snake runs, rails and steps.
Caballero, of Carlsbad, said in an interview after the event that skate parks have been getting better and better over the years. He said the first skate parks were mostly private facilities that charged admission.
“I never would have dreamed of free skate parks,” Caballero said at the event Tuesday.
The new skate park in Linda Vista is free to use, but it cost about $3 million build, city officials said Tuesday.
The Tony Hawk Foundation, founded by professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, provided about $40,000 in “seed money” to get the project off the ground.
Most of the funding came from a $4.6-million grant the state Department of Housing and Community Development awarded the city in 2014 to construct skate parks in Linda Vista and City Heights, according to the information provided at Tuesday’s event. The City Heights skate park is slated to open Wednesday in the Park de la Cruz neighborhood.
The new skate park in Linda Vista is likely to get frequent visits from one of San Diego’s rising stars.
Tate Carew, 12, a skateboarder who has placed in national and international competitions, said Tuesday that the Linda Vista park had everything he needed to practice.
“It’s just perfect,” he said. “This is probably going to be my new local.”