Many Utah cities are banishing skateboarders and in-line skaters from their streets and sidewalks, giving them fewer places to practice and show off their best moves.
But where other skaters see a problem, Mark Laue saw a business opportunity.An in-line skater himself, the 21-year-old Laue is the managing partner of Real Ride Skate Park, a 16,000-square-foot, indoor haven for skaters and BMX bikers.
The park, built in a warehouse at 1410 S. 375 West, is set to open June 26 and host a grand opening amateur competition July 4. For Laue, the opening will be a dream come true.
Laue moved to Utah from Upland, Calif., less than two years ago when he was traded from the Long Beach Bombers to the Utah Junior Grizzlies hockey team. He soon met some of Salt Lake City's in-line skaters and formed Academy Productions, which produces skating exhibitions and competitions.
But he still needed a place to perfect his craft.
"I've been free-skating downtown and at the university and been kicked off by the cops," Laue said Tuesday. "A skate park is something I've wanted for years. It's very much needed."
Laue found an investor and started working on Real Ride. He called in John Tyson, a friend whose California-based Vertical Production Industries has built skate equipment worldwide, to help design the park.
Now most of the plywood ramps are up, awaiting their Masonite covering, and the 10,000-square-foot concrete floor is ready to accept its first skid marks. The park also will feature a 1,500-square-foot arcade, a viewing area that can hold 500 to 1,000 people, a concession area, a pro shop offering skating equipment, a locker room and a homework room for skaters to use while they wait for a session.
Laue said the park will offer three to four three-hour sessions each day, seven days a week, with a longer night session on weekends.
Skaters and bikers will pay $6 to $8 a session for the privilege of catching "big air" in the air-conditioned building. Laue said he expects 200 to 300 customers each day, and about 60 will be able to use the park at any one time.
He said he will probably spend $60,000 to $80,000 on the building project, but his connections in the skating world have kept that price down. If anyone else tried to build a similar facility, he said, it would cost about $200,000.
While Farmington has a city skate park, and a Sandy rol-ler-skating rink has an area with ramps and some rails, Laue said nobody offers the variety of ramps that Real Ride will feature.
Tiffany Graff, the park's 20-year-old manager, said she thinks the business will be a huge success.
"I'm way excited," she said Tuesday. "It gives kids a place to go that's safe and in a controlled area."
Ross Metzger, who works at Bike Board and Blade in Salt Lake City, said he thinks skaters will be willing to pay to show their stuff.
"It's not in the best location, because a lot of the kids that do it are in Sugar House and Sandy," Metzger said Tuesday. "But I'm sure they'll go, because a lot of them would go clear downtown to skate before they closed that."