Charm City Skate Park and Shop
The History of the Park
Charm City Skate Park and Shop is widely known in the Baltimore area. The owner, Jason Chapman, is a Baltimore native who has an extensive knowledge of skateboarding. His park and shop are a second home to many skateboarders and bicyclists in Baltimore.
Chapman previously owned the original Charm City Skate Park and Shop on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore City and the Charm City Skate Shop in Fells Point. He is now, however, focusing on the two parks that have become popular among the Baltimore skating community.
An important characteristic of Chapman that differentiates him from other skate park owners, in this area, is his skateboarding background. Chapman began skating when he was 12 years old and continued his love for the sport into his adult life by owning skate parks in Baltimore. By being apart of the construction of the parks, Chapman developed a wealth of knowledge regarding the building of the ramps and the course.
“I am open to what the kids have to say about the park. If they want me to change something, I will. There is only one original bump; other than that I have changed everything,” Chapman said.
Chapman says he remembers the opening of the Odonnell Street Park and how thrilled he was to have a large space in a warehouse to work with.
“We opened this skate park on Odonnell Street in September of 1999. I have been skateboarding for 18 years now so I know what I’m talking about when I run this park. I think that’s why I have been successful so far,” Chapman said.
The Park Helps Form a Bond
Chapman says there are the same familiar faces who come to his park. To many of the younger skateboarders, the park is a place to go to gather with their fellow skateboarders and to build their confidence in both themselves and skating.
“We’re a family. We take care of each other. If they have a problem I help them out. It’s all about the kids,” Chapman said.
Kids like, Kadian Maxwell, who is a 9-year-old skateboarder from New York enjoys skating at Charm City Skate Park. He skateboards at Charm City Skate Park because he feels comfortable.
“I come here whenever I can save enough money to visit. I like the course and Jason helps me out a lot,” Kadian said.
Location and Cost
The cost to skate at Charm City Skate Park is $10 all day and $5 after 5 p.m. The park is open from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The skate shop is just as successful as the skate park. Nearly half of the skateboarders who come to the park purchase their product at the Charm City Skate Shop. A few of the products the shop has to offer are skate videos, decks, wheels, trucks, clothing and shoes.
“I think the shop comes natural with the park. I get pretty tired doing both, but you have to do it to attract customers,” Chapman said.
Challenges Chapman Faces
Chapman chose the location of the skate park because it is close to the highways and the landlord was willing to work with Chapman and his idea of building a skate park. The problem Chapman is now facing is the renovation of the surrounding homes in the Canton area.
“On the one side there are million dollar homes being built so it does increase my rent. This was a perfect location for a skate park but now all of these renovations are sweeping toward the downtown area and that’s not good for me,” Chapman said.
Pads Not Required
Many athletes are drawn to the park because they are not required to wear pads while on the course. Chapman says the majority of the imjuries at his park deal with the ankle and wrist.
“Pads do more harm than good. There aren’t any pads out there that can prevent someone hurting their wrists or ankles,” Chapman said.
Some Parents Do Not Support Skateboarding
Many other young skateboarders are not as fortunate as Kadian. Chapman says he has seen a few young skateboarders stop coming to the park because their parents will not give them the money to purchase a skateboard. Unfortunately, Chapman says those who lose their focus on skateboarding tend to become involved in illegal behavior.
“There was this one kid from Patapsco. He would come here all the time and then he just stopped. I found out later he became a huge junkie,” Chapman said.
Chapman says he notices that many of the parents of the younger skateboarders are not as involved in their child’s skateboarding. Chapman says he thinks the parents would prefer their child to play baseball or soccer. There are those parents, however, that do become involved in skateboarding and there is a difference in the child’s confidence, Chapman says.
Charm City Skate Team
Charm City Skate Park has its own skate team. Chapman says he looks for “the cream of the crop” when deciding who will be on his team. The team members have two responsibilities. Promoting the skate park and shop is the most important expectation a team rider must fulfill. Their other job is to become involved with giving private skateboard lessons. The lessons cost $40 per hour and only the most responsible team riders are allowed to give the lessons.
Charm City Skate Shop also holds its skate competitions. The park’s Annual King of the Coast Contest invites over 100 skateboarders to compete against one another. There are over 500 skateboarders who skate at the park, Chapman says, and only about one-quarter enter the contests because they are too nervous. Chapman emphasizes that the contests aren’t meant to highlight each of the skateboarder’s personal skill, but to “build confidence in participating in a contest.” In this particular contest the park handed out a skate board to each of the participants.
Interstate Video Magazine
Chapman also prodeuces his own skate video magazine, Interstate.
“I could be making $150 an hour by editing in an office, but I decide to make a lot less at the park because I do it for the kids,” Chapman said.
Chapman created the video magazine five years ago to promote skateboarders in Baltimore, as well as many other cities across the United States. Skateboarders from Maryland, New York and California submit footage for Chapman to review and publish in the video magazine. This aspect of Charm City Skate Park and Shop is just another fun and interactive way to get the younger skateboarders involved in the sport.
Other Events at the Park
The park also holds other events such as when MTV came to the park to promote professional skateboarder Bam Margera’s new video. Many younger skateboarders came to the premiere because they are familiar with Margera through his skateboarding and his show Jack Ass.
Charm City Skate Park and Shop is a place for young skateboarders to go when they want to free themselves from the everyday chaos. This park is based on their wants and needs, and Chapman makes sure the skateboarders are happy.
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