Bunch of skaters with a giant check

Skateboarders grinded and shredded in celebration yesterday afternoon at Stanyan and Waller to accept Tony Hawk’s $10,000 donation for a new South of Market skate park.

Local pro skateboarding legend Steve Caballero got together with Park and Recreation officials, Sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi, and a small army of skaters from all over The City, to accept an oversized check on behalf of the Tony Hawk Foundation.

SOMA West, planned under the 101 freeway behind Zeitgeist at Valencia and Duboce, is scheduled to break ground next spring and open in the fall, at a total cost of $3 million. It is the culmination of over two years of planning between the local skate community, civic and state level government agencies, and consultants at New Line Skateparks Inc.

“I’m really stoked by what this city is doing for you guys,” said Caballero, who was born and raised in the South Bay and lives there still. “San Jose hasn’t done it yet. But I know it’s not easy to raise funds, so we got to give thanks to Tony Hawk for doing what he’s doing.”

Soon-to-officially-be-sheriff Ross Mirkarimi explained how San Francisco has a history of losing young families to suburban communities, partially because there’s not much for kids to do in The City once they’re old enough to start doing things on their own.

Mirkarimi added that skateboarding has been put in a negative light for so many years due to neighbor complaints, which in a large part existed only because the city failed to provide skaters with an alternative to shredding in the streets.

“We’ve localized what is a good, safe, positive activity,” said Mirkarimi. “My instinct and gut tells me that this has always been, and will be, exactly the right thing to do. “

Mirkarimi was presented with his very own law enforcement inspired custom skate deck, to which he exclaimed, “This is going up in the office!”

To date, the Tony Hawk Foundation has given away more than $3.4 million to help build well over 400 skateparks around the country.

The skateboarding industry, as a whole, currently generates close $6 billion in annual revenue, more than surfing and snowboarding combined. Mid-level pro skaters often make up to a $100k a year, while some of the best are raking in upwards of seven figures, and more – most of which comes from corporate sponsorship and contest winnings.

There’s even wide-spread speculation that skateboarding and BMX freestyle will be included in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. More than ever before, skateboarding is truly being recognized as a sport, and a culture, with a good number of career paths in place for those who take it seriously. And San Francisco is saying they do.

“To see this city getting behind skateboarding is pretty amazing. When I started skating [pro] back in the early 80s, this would have been unheard of,” Caballero said. “You got laughed at if you called yourself a professional skateboarder, now it’s accepted.  I don’t know how we got there but we got there.”