Skatepark Association surpasses campaign goal

By August 2023, skateboarding enthusiasts will enjoy a new, state-of-the-art skatepark at the intersection of 10th Street and Cliff Avenue in Sioux Falls.

After completing a hugely successful Community Appeals campaign on March 31, the Sioux Falls Skatepark Association (SFSA) raised over $1.7 million from the Sioux Falls area business community, surpassing its goal by nearly $350,000.

With the City of Sioux Falls donating $800,000, the total raised for the project over the past six months is $2.5 million. The City is partnering with SFSA as part of the City’s Master Plan for Nelson Park and will also donate the land for the project. A gifting agreement will be created with the City after final cost estimates are determined.

According to SFSA co-founder Walter Portz, the “Let’s Skate” campaign found success by educating the public how the new skatepark will benefit the community. They also dialed into conversation based on the motivations of prospective donors.

“The main angles we presented to prospects were the park’s low barrier to entry (skateboard affordability), activating healthy habits in both physical and mental aspects and workforce development,” said Portz. “Telling the stories of individuals and or families that skateboarding has impacted was also very influential.”

The primary motivation for this project is community building, Portz said. “By providing a place for people to safely participate in a low-cost, physical activity that doesn’t require fees or team organizations, we are offering an opportunity to be a part of something—a community—while still maintaining your individuality.”

Portz said the Chamber’s Community Appeals process is the reason this project will get done. “Without the team, the motivation of a deadline and the access to Chamber members, this project would be floundering. Community Appeals focused and motivated us to get everything together.”

Like many quality of life projects, the skatepark will also provide a significant economic impact. “From a workforce development perspective, this space will be another showpiece for our city,” Portz said. “As people look at Sioux Falls as a place to work, start a business or relocate here, as a city, we need modern and progressive attractions in order to recruit young workers and their families. This provides another feather in our cap.”

The skatepark will also positively impact tourism. Portz said skateboarding is a creative sport and riders are constantly looking for new terrain and new ways to ride, so inherently, skateboarders travel frequently. Portz said many local skaters may travel to Des Moines, Minneapolis or Omaha, or even make road trips to the West Coast.

“One obstacle we could not overcome is to define what the volume and scope of that travel is. We only have anecdotal evidence,” Portz said. “We’re bringing ideas to the table about how to quantify this reality and talking to the Tony Hawk Foundation to see if we can find a way to do this in order to help future projects here and elsewhere.”

The new skatepark aligns perfectly with SFSA goals, but in the spirit of thinking progressively as skaters do, it doesn’t end there, according to Portz. “The skatepark is the goal, so the real question is what is next? Community outreach? Lessons? Helping other cities build parks? More skateparks in Sioux Falls?”

Time will tell what evolves beyond the skatepark. However, with the enthusiasm, creativity and energy for skateboarding in our community, the future looks very bright for SFSA.