We love understanding skateparks and have plenty of enthusiasm for diving into skatepark-related questions. One question that keeps us up at night is: Why are skateparks more expensive today?
The Tony Hawk Foundation receives, on average, more than a hundred grant applications each year. With few exceptions, each application represents a community that is working hard to support its local youth by providing healthier recreational options.
From a historical standpoint, skateparks are getting more expensive but are not getting much larger. Even accounting for inflation, prices for skateparks have essentially doubled since THF was founded.
There are some plausible reasons for this increase. The most likely culprit is the rise and fall of prefabricated skateboarding elements. These ramp-style structures were commonly installed on underutilized parking lots, tennis courts, and other existing slabs of asphalt or concrete. While many of these types of skateparks only included a few ramps, the reported square footage often encompassed the entire available space. So, the skateable space was actually much less, and the cost per square foot only appeared to be less.
While concrete skateparks usually require architectural services and other costly procedures, prefabricated structures were commonly purchased through catalogs and installed by local contractors. While these cost-saving measures appealed to thrifty community leaders, the structures themselves were not durable enough to withstand the rigors of use. Prefabricated ramps would typically be removed for safety reasons after a few years.
The cost of installing and removing a skatepark is, of course, compounded by the fact that a demolished skatepark provides zero benefits to the community… and whatever capital investment the community made is now long gone.
The fluctuations in skatepark sizes and costs may be due to many factors, such as inflation and market competition as new companies get into skatepark construction, or community desire for larger or more elaborate terrain. But we believe that today’s higher average cost for concrete skateparks has more to do with their feature-rich designs and communities’ higher expectations about quality and usability.
And that’s good.