New skate park promises to draw Valley devotees

By Matthew Garcia

As a youngster, Colby Carter fondly recalls gliding his skateboard through the malls at Arizona State University and jumping “ollie” tricks onto benches at various local high schools.

He also has memories of being detained by the police at those same locations for having fun as a young skateboarder.

As time passed, the laws became stricter and skateboarding at the best Tempe and Chandler locations became progressively more illegal, Carter said.

“I’ve had many friends get trespassing and vandalism tickets for skateboarding in Tempe,” Carter said. “It got to the point where no one was even willing to skate in Tempe because it was too illegal.”

That’s how it stayed for many years, until now.

In a little more than a month, on Nov. 25, the city of Tempe will open its first skateboard park at the Tempe Sports Complex at Warner Road and Hardy Drive.

Carter’s role in the project carries with it the small coincidence of a once-frustrated young Tempe skateboarder who now is the conceptual architect of a new skate park in his own hometown.

Now 30, Carter works with the Tempe-based design team that is developing the park and holds status as Tempe’s only professional skateboarder. The park, he says, will be a major draw for this area.

“There is a huge skateboarding community in Tempe,” Carter said.

The 29,500-square-foot park, with myriad unique details, will be the envy of the entire metro Phoenix area, Carter said.

“Skateboarders from all over the Valley will come to skate this park,” he said.

For Carter, being a Tempe native and enduring the skater evolution in Arizona, this project represents what he calls “a dream come true.”

“Most projects we’ve done are out of state and have no personal connection,” Carter said.

“This was an opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t have imagined being so heavily involved in a skateboard project that’s only a few miles from my parents’ house.”

Site Design, which is widely recognized for having its fingers on the pulse of skate park design around the country and with which Carter works, has developed 60 similar parks around the nation, including eight in the Valley.

Carter said he only wishes that this sort of park existed here when he was younger. Perhaps, he realizes, it could have resulted in a few less encounters with the police for him and his friends.