The Matt Hughes Skatepark receives its long-awaited upgrade
When even the skateboarders are afraid of getting hurt—not from their crazy moves but from loose screws and crumbling equipment—you know the skatepark needs an upgrade.
And after several years of fundraising led by a hardcore pack of skateboarders and funding by the city of Myrtle Beach, skateboarders now have a proper place to play in the recently renovated Matt Hughes Skatepark.
Tucked between the new Myrtle Beach Middle School and Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, the area’s only skatepark is again welcoming skateboarders after a two-month, $130,000 overhaul that transformed the aging, 20-year-old park into a modern, concrete skateboarder’s playground.
“It just doesn’t feel like the same place,” said Aaron Frobase, a skateboarder who led the fundraising effort and works for the city as a recreation leader. “The vibe is different. The park is packed.”
The city-owned park, which reopened in late July, now features hand rails, two quarter pipes, long flat rails, manual pads and ledges—equipment that makes for a good day of skateboarding.
“It’s a big upgrade from the last one,” said skateboarder Devon Jones, who visits the park at least once a week. “There’s so much to do.”
On a sunny August afternoon, more than a dozen skateboarders were grinding the rails and popping flip tricks.
“I’m very thankful that it’s fixed,” said skateboarder Drake Hughes, who was concerned about safety at the crumbling park before the upgrades. “This is like a super-legit park.”
The park, which opened in 1998, was originally set to get just a few new ramps. But after fundraising efforts by local skateboarders, the city agreed to spend $100,000 from its capital improvement fund to overhaul the park with the concrete, street-style structures. Fundraisers chipped in roughly $25,000 to help make the park better. Friends of the Skateparks Foundation donated $15,000. Philadelphia-based Fifth Pocket Design renovated the park and made the best use of the space, Frobase said.
“They really stretched our budget and gave us a really great park,” he said.
While skateboarders are enjoying breaking in this overhauled park, Frobase is already planning for another improvement: a bowl. He pitches the project at events around town, and the effort has a GoFundMe page to raise the money to make it happen (gofundme.com/rebuild-matt-hughes-skatepark-2018). The Tony Hawk Foundation has already chipped in a $5,000 grant.
“Every good skate park needs a bowl,” Frobase said.
Seeing the results of the recent renovations just motivates Frobase even more to keep the efforts going to help the park evolve.
“Everybody loves it,” he said. “They are having a good time.”