… it looked like a scene from the video game ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.’
SMP Skatepark in Shanghai has been the world’s largest skatepark since it was completed in 2006 at a cost of a 165,357,585 RMB, or $26,000,000 dollars. While visiting China this August I had a chance to visit Shanghai for two days with wakeboarder Collin Harrington and wakeskater Nick Taylor. We arrived via bullet train from the city of Hangzhou where we had been the previous 8 days. Nick and Collin had their skateboards with them and our plan was to check out the park and meet up with pro skater/surfer Curren Caples. We were all in complete disbelief as we entered the park, it looked like a scene from the video game ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.’ The entrance fee was only something like $1 American and I wasn’t charged because I didn’t have a board. The park was seemingly empty except for an Australian named Matt who was our age and a handful of very young Chinese kids. Matt spent most of his time after work at the park and was psyched to have some guys his age to skate with.
He explained the situation at SMP perfect when I sent him an email about the park upon my return.
“SMP is a place to its own.. it sends off the craziest vibes, something about the vast open space, and derelict stadiums, and the almost abandoned skatepark… with rusty coping, and nobody game enough to skate it …its like a time warp… hahaha .. it’s mind blowing hey!”
Most of the park seemed way too scary and intimidating for the younger kids to skate and I cringed as I saw one of them drop in (successfully nonetheless) on an 8 foot tall section of the main bowl. A few of the kids had high hopes along with their parents of becoming pro skaters. Two in particular had been taken out of school to pursue skateboarding in the hopes of it becoming a lucrative profession, or simply just a way out of poverty.