After almost a decade of operation, Vans Skate Park will be closing its doors on January of 2012. This popular skate park located at the Festival Bay Mall is the second largest indoor skate park in the world.
Vans’ manager Tim Luebbert says new mall owners are redeveloping the shopping center and Vans will not be part of the upcoming changes.
“There’s new mall management and they are actually demolishing the current mall and redoing it and we don’t fit in the plans for the new mall so our lease was not renewed,” Luebbert said.
Vans Skate Park has provided a safe environment for kids to practice skateboarding and participate in contests. Vans features a 25 thousand square foot indoor street course and a 15 thousand square foot outdoor concrete course.
Luebbert says his main concern is where all the skateboarders will go now that Vans is closing.
“Hopefully there are legal places to skate. Skating in government property in turn gets them in trouble, it vandalizes the property,” Luebbert said.
Businesses at the Festival Bay mall are also concerned. John Rios owns a Churro Mania shop at the mall. He says he doesn’t know what will happen to his business.
“It’s going to affect us a lot. A lot of people are going to leave. Since the mall is empty, and another big store is gone we are going to be running out of clients,” Rios said.
Emma Rafiddi comes to Vans regularly to watch her son skate. Rafiddi says she was shocked when she first heard the skate park was closing.
“I can’t believe Vans is closing. This is the only reason that brings me here to the mall” Rafiddi said.
Quickly after Vans announced it was closing, supporters united to save the skate park by creating a “Keep Vans Skatepark Open” Facebook Page that currently has more than six thousand supporters.
Luebbert says that even though the skate park is closing Vans will be opening a retail store at the Florida Mall next month.
Vans Skate Park will continue its regular operating hours until the end of the year.