On Saturday November 1st, 2008, City of Thunder Bay officials and members of the local skateboarding community joined forces to cut the ribbon and open a spectacular and unique new recreation and sport tourism facility, and right on the shore of Lake Superior no less.
The new Skate board and BMX plaza, located at Prince Arthur's Landing on the shore of Lake Superior, is the first major project completed as part of the city's new waterfront development strategy and aims to make the area a more inviting place for youth and families to enjoy throughout the year.
The park's opening was welcomed by over 500 young -and young at heart-riders, eager to experience this new park, considered one of the finest of its kind in Canada. The fact that it was November 1st made no difference as it was a sunny, 12 degree celcius afternoon. Whether skating, biking or just watching the activities with Lake Superior and Sleeping Giant in the background, this was the place to be in Thunder Bay this weekend. Even as night fell, some 100 riders were enjoying the park by streetlight well into the evening.
Why is this park good for tourism? BMX and Skateboarding competitions are big business in North America and there are pro and semi pro circuits criss crossing the continent. Having a park of this magnatude, including the California Bowl (one of only two kidney shaped in Canada) allows the city to host regional, national and even international amateur and pro competitions in the future. Linked in with the new Toivo St BMX track, the Wake the Giant WakeBoard festival and the Shuniah Mines Mountain Bike, trails, we are poised to capitalize on the City's connection to the outdoors and to these hugely popular sport and recreation opportunities. A single event with 250 out of town particpants could generate up to $500 000 for the local tourism economy.
This park also enhances Thunder Bay's marketing position as a great outdoor city and a hip destination for outdoor experience seeking youth travel markets.
The new facilities are already creating significant buzz in the skate and BMX online world, reaching riders in the local, Winnipeg, US and Toronto markets who are expressing interest in making Thunder Bay a destination for them and their friends. Check out this story and comments by riders from all over the globe to see what I mean.
With a new sport tourism strategy set to be released by the end of 2008, followed by the release of the Premier Ranked Tourism Destination framework, our strategic direction will help support this type of sport infrastructure investments and the tourism related events they can bring.
The Thunder Bay Skeateboard Coalition is helping raise a portion of the capital costs. If you are interested in buying a named brick for $100 to support this great facility, visit www.tbsc.ca. This group has been instrumental in the development of the park, working with the city administration throughout the process.
Once the doner wall, landscaping and california bowl are completed in early 2009, the park will have a more officious opening. In the meantime, there's plenty of opportunity to enjoy the challenging experiences it provides. Stay tuned as your's truly will be found at the park in my skate gear as well.