SEATTLE - In a city that sees more rain than sun, it seems pretty simple to Bryce Phillips - Seattle is the perfect place to have indoor skate parks. Yet, it doesn't - not even one.
"It's insane," Phillips says. "There are thousands and thousands of people who skate, and they have nowhere to go when it rains."
The founder and CEO of evo, an outdoor gear and clothing retailer, says having at least one indoor park in the city would be better than none, and there's enough outside interest he's determined to make it happen.
"I've probably had 20 plus parents in the neighborhood coming asking what they can do to help," Phillip says.
More than a year and a half ago Inner Space, which had served as Seattle's only indoor skate park for seven years, was forced to close. Phillips says a lack of money was to blame, leaving Seattle's skateboarding community stranded.
Seeing an opportunity to recreate what once was and make it even better, evo took the abandoned and defunct warehouse on 35th and Stone Way, where Inner Space use to live, renovated and remodeled the building, set up evo's new retail store on the top floor along with two restaurants, Joule and The Whale Wins, and kept the bottom floor of the building primed for reuse as the new All Together Skatepark.
"We just know how important it is to have this here," Phillips says. "So, while we were opening the store upstairs we were trying to figure out how to bring it back."
Now, Phillips hopes the community will rally behind evo's efforts for a new indoor park and offer a little help. They recently launched an Indiegogo campaign and are looking to raise $35,000 for the project. Phillips says evo plans to back the skate park with staff, time and some money, and they have received some sponsorship donations. But, in order to keep the park open for the long haul community support is critical.
"We are running to make sure we break even and stay open," Phillips says. "We are not trying to live on the skate park. If we can cover the monthly costs to operate, we are doing well then."
Phillips says All Together Skatepark will operate as its own business within the Fremont Collective, offering memberships, annual and monthly passes, as well as drop-in rates. He says all of the money collected through fees will go to keep the skate park open and accessible to the community.
"An indoor skate park is an amazing asset," says Ashley Miller, executive director of The Service Board, a local organization designed to mentor kids.
The Service Board uses outdoor activities, such as snowboarding and skateboarding, to teach kids and teens how to conquer personal and cultural challenges. Miller says drawing connections between sports and life skills helps children develop the confidence they need to succeed and skateboarding is the perfect tool to make it happen.
"Practicing a trick 50 times and finally landing it is really amazing for youth," Miller says. "Persistence and understanding they can practice and learn new things can help them make a connection for the rest of their lives, and that's really powerful."
So far, more than $13,500 has been raised for the indoor park through its Indiegogo site. Phillips says the hope is to open All Together Skatepark by the first part of November.
More information about the park and the fundraising effort can be found here.
Construction and design plans for the All Together Skatepark. (Rendering courtesy Grindline Skateparks Inc.)