Underpass portraits bring attention to first-of-its-kind skatepark in Arizona

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 11:30 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It will soon be one of the most unique attractions in downtown Tucson. Work is set to get underway on a new skatepark that will be located beneath the city’s busiest freeway.

Now, the project is getting a lot of air with some fresh artwork.

Shannon Smith was busy plastering nearly 70 portraits of local skaters on the I-10 underpass near Cushing Street over the weekend, hinting at what’s to come.

“For me, the portraits weren’t so much about getting the skatepark built, but just bringing awareness,” said Smith. “‘Who are these people? Obviously this is skateboarding, [but] what’s happening?’”

The City of Tucson recently approved $500,000 in funding for phase one of the project. The Tucson Skatepark Alliance says nearly 22,000 square feet of space will be transformed, making it the first skatepark in Arizona to be located under a bridge. Smith says it just makes sense.

“It’s 100 plus in the summer, I mean we don’t have a covered skatepark,” Smith said.

For Yasmine “Y-lo” Lopez, skating is not just a hobby.

“It’s changed my life a lot actually,” she said. “[It’s] made me the positive, confident person I am today.”

According to the Tucson Skatepark Alliance, there is growing interest in the sport. It comes on the heels of the Olympics, which featured skateboarding for the first time in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

“Liam Pace is actually from Tucson and he won Dew Tour as well,” said Lopez. “Dashawn Jordan is in Phoenix.”

You don’t have to be an Olympic hopeful to be excited about the project, though.

“Obviously, I am not going to be mad if I never go pro or something because it’s just something I do for fun,” said 15-year-old Dillinger Kincheloe.

The Tucson Parks and Recreation Department is conducting a feasibility study and will move into the design phase next. Local skaters are optimistic they will be ready to roll by the end of next year.

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