When BMX riders asked city officials in 2009 to let them occasionally use the new Santa Rita skate park, they were continually told no, despite the fact that other skate parks around the country were opening to BMX users. This summer, Ian Abbott and a group of friends and volunteers decided it was time to create their own BMX-friendly space. The result is Premises Park, located at an old sofa factory at Speedway Boulevard and Main Avenue. Want more info? Go to premisespark.com.
It must have been frustrating when BMX riders couldn't get access to Santa Rita.
All we wanted was a day or night to be able to ride there. (Local BMX advocate) Mike Hines put a lot of work into it. He went out and did a demonstration for the City Council to show that bikes can ride (at the park safely) despite what the developer said. And then engineering came back and said it wasn't structurally (sound) for bikes. It is 6 inches of concrete. You can park your car on 4 inches. ... The response in the end was, "If you want it this bad, you should seek it through the private sector." We weren't looking for a brand-new park or a multimillion-dollar facility; we just wanted a night or two.
Why did you think you could create a park?
I'm an entrepreneur, and I was thinking, "It is easier for me to open another business and form something." ... I have a great lawyer. He gave me some advice on this: "Don't do a business, but do it as a nonprofit." He was right. It would be better as a nonprofit, because we are here for the community, and this is not about making a buck.
What kind of nonprofit?
This will be a 501(C)7. ... I don't have cash-flow records yet to support the tax documentation, but that is our goal. I have 15 months to establish that with Arizona. Some friends and I got together to start dreaming about it.
How did you find this location?
I was driving around with my best friend, and we noticed the building and the for-rent sign: "That's the bike park." We talked about how we could all pitch in the money each month to pay the rent and utilities and have a place to ride. This was back in October. ... In March, I got my tax returns, so that money plus my savings did it. We took the building on May 21. The next day, we had 15 volunteers here, and everyone was pulling out electrical and wood, stacking it. By the end of three days, we had 150 friends on a Facebook page I started. We had people show up who just wanted to help.
How did you go about designing the ramps and foam pit?
We put together three conceptual designs. Because the bathroom couldn't be moved, we had to build up and over it. ... My riding buddies Arnold Tellez and Adam Noel have been building ramps for years. I know construction and engineering. We combined it all together with other friends and knew what we needed to do. Meeks Construction came in, jacked up the whole ceiling and leveled it, and new beams were donated. Others did the plaster work, and someone else removed lights and installed new lighting.
Why do you think so many people helped?
"It is needed." That's what people kept telling us: "We need this so bad. I am so glad you are doing this." It's because of their help we were able to open our doors on July 22.
Why are you partially membership-based?
The nonprofit status requires that part of our revenue be membership-based. It costs $35 per month for someone to stay all day, all night. We also have a pro membership for the development of people who want a competitive edge. For $75, (members) can come in whenever they want to ride (if they) let us know the day before. We will open early so they can have the park for themselves; it gives them their own park, own music and own concentration.
How do you describe the park?
It is recreational, but if you want that competitive progression, it is here. A lot of people are intimidated when you come into the park. It is an advanced park, but the way we built it, it is progressive. You work your way up. This is a great outlet. One of the problems I have is that BMX is labeled as "extreme." These riders are no different than any other athlete. It is an important passion in their life, and they have to ride every day.