A Utah legislator wants Salt Lake City to house North America’s only Olympic-quality skate park

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brandon Marquez skateboarding at the Salt Lake City skate park on Friday Feb. 22, 2019.

If Rep. Mike McKell gets his way, Utah will be home to North America’s only Olympic-grade skate park, just in time for the sport to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020.

All he needs is $300,000 from the state.

McKell, R-Spanish Fork, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday that after speaking with his fellow lawmakers, he’s confident he’ll get the money. Vans Corp. will supply the remaining $200,000 needed to build the park.

If all goes as planned, the park will be built by mid-August, just before the Vans Park Series park terrain skateboarding World Championship in September at the Utah State Fairpark. It’ll be the first time the event has been held in the U.S., and Larry Mullenax, executive director of the Utah State Fair Corp., said it would bring in $4 million locally and $8 million from media exposure.

Mullenax told the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee on Feb. 7 that the state would pay $300,000 for the park and in return get $225,000 in annual earnings.

McKell said lawmakers like those projected economic impacts.

“The numbers are shockingly good for the state,” he said.

McKell said Utah Sports Commission President Jeff Robbins and Mullenax reached out to him about the proposal from Vans to build the first Olympic-tier skate park in the northern hemisphere in Salt Lake City.

The company already had a relationship with the state Fairpark from hosting the Salt Lake City leg of its Warped Tour concert series for years, McKell said.

Utah also has a reputation for being a training ground for Olympians.

In November, USA Climbing, the national governing body for the sport, which is also planning a summer 2020 Olympic debut, announced it was moving its headquarters to Salt Lake City. Utah is also home to national governing bodies U.S. Ski & Snowboard and U.S. Speedskating.

If the park is built, Mullenax said it is almost inevitable a future skateboarding Olympian will train here.

“If you’re anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, and you want to train for the Olympics," he said, “you’re going to have to train at the Fairpark to do it.”