By Rob Meronek
When I first moved to Tampa, I was at the height of my skateboarding life as far as ability goes. Jumping down stairs and gaps, going on the endless treasure hunt for spots like ledges, manny pads, and even transition like backyard mini-ramps and vert ramps. Of course I found Tampa’s oldest “skatepark”, the Bro Bowl. As every other skater I rolled with, we avoided the Bro Bowl because it sucked for anyone who wasn’t stuck in the last generation of skateboarding. In fact, it was such a sad excuse for a skatepark that locals built their own. Paul Zitzer rented a warehouse and put ramps in there. Then, Brian Schaefer started Skatepark of Tampa. Not once was anything even remotely resembling the useless Bro Bowl ever built at these two private facilities. They would have quickly gone the way of the Bro Bowl: unskated by anyone serious about modern skateboarding. Only a classic gub’ment run piece of property could sustain something that old and irrelevant to so many people for that long.
That was 20 years ago. Now I’m old, I live right next to the Bro Bowl, and I STILL never skate there because it still sucks just as much. It makes me mad and I start to talk like a long winded asshole whenever the subject comes up. Like most skateboarders, I’d rather risk getting arrested downtown and skate things like Turtle Ditch that were not even made for skateboarding and turned out better than the Bro Bowl.
I’ve been complaining about the outdated Bro Bowl on skateparkoftampa.com since I started the site back in the late 90’s. Now, we’ve finally reached a point where we are getting an update for it. The plans include factoring in many parts of the existing Bro Bowl like the moguls and snake run. The existing moguls will even become part of a historic display and plaque detailing its history. Additionally, there will be shade, bbq grills, and most important, a modern street skating section. One last thing: it will also be free, lit, open 24/7, and padless. Wow, that’s the only good thing about the current Bro Bowl and the only thing about it that should be preserved. Done! Let’s break ground, get it built, blow up the old one, pour out a 40, and move on.
Hold on, though. We have an enemy of progression. Damn! Is it the suits? Is it gub’ment red tape? Is it the grandmas frightened of skateboarding? Is it ordinary society that doesn’t get it? Nope, as unbelievable as it is, it’s other skateboarders that are the roadblock. How pathetic. Well, “skateboarders” means a lot these days and unfortunately you have to include a lot of bull$h!t in that term. All good though, however…
The Bro Bowl is now so damn old that some skateboarders and longboarders are saying it should be a historical monument or something. They want it to stay as it is, which will derail the plans for the updated version. Pop’s memories of stinkbug airs and toes on the nose will apparently be gone forever if this thing isn’t here anymore.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, at 9am, the City of Tampa is going to hear them plead their case. There should be someone on the other side telling the City that they may as well preserve a landfill or the fax machine in your bank that’s still there. The Bro Bowl needs an update and we can’t let some longboarder’s nostalgia or people who use skateboards as weekend toys get in the way. Can you come with me to tell the City of Tampa to move forward with the modern park being built? It’s at City Council Chambers located at Old City Hall, 315 E. Kennedy Blvd, 3rd Floor. 9am Tuesday, June 11.