Steve Wilson

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Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2006


Skateboarding parks -- Oregon -- Portland, Skateboarding -- Oregon -- Portland, Parks -- Oregon -- Portland


In the summer of 2005, the City of Portland’s Department of Parks and Recreation approved a Skatepark Master Plan to build 19 skateparks and skatespots around the city, joining a nationwide trend that signals a shift in the relationship between municipalities and skateboarders. Dedicated and publicly-approved areas for skateboarding are popping up in towns across the country, demonstrating how skateboarding has become a recreational norm on par with traditional sports such as football, baseball, and basketball. In fact, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association (SGMA), the number of skateboarders has nearly doubled in the past decade, making it the fastest-growing extreme sport in America; and, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), skateboarding is now more popular than tennis. For a city with probably the world’s most famous skatepark, in a state with the highest per capita number of skateboarders in the nation, it is a bit ironic that Portland has decided to build spaces for skaters years after many other towns, many of them nearby. Over 100 communities in Oregon feature at least one dedicated space for skateboarding, making it one of the most skatepark-rich states in the union, and many communities surrounding Portland already have world-class skateparks, including Newberg, McMinnville, and Donald (population 750) in Marion County. For years Portland skaters have left town to skate at these parks, creating crowds in surrounding cities and frustration at home. With about 27,000 skaters in Portland and a single municipally-maintained skatepark, skaters feel the time for additional construction is long overdue. However, a growing maturity in the perception of skaters’ needs—both by cities and skaters themselves—may turn Portland’s tardiness to an advantage, allowing the town and the skaters to learn from the experiences of others.


Originally appeared in the Winter 2006 edition of Metroscape, published by the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, Portland State University.

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