TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, March 31, 2004
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Park provides refuge for extreme athletes
The GPX Skate Park in Grand Prairie gives skaters and bike riders a clean, inviting atmosphere 30 minutes away from TCU.

By Laura Pipe
Staff Reporter


Years of riding could never alleviate the pain caused by crashing headfirst into a wooden ramp. So, after one month of extreme bike riding, Clint Powell sits holding gauze to his now split lip.

Powell, 18, is a resident of Venus, a town 35 miles south of the Metroplex. He and his friends drive to GPX Skate Park often. “The closer parks aren’t bike friendly,” said Powell’s friend Coleman Bullick, 19.

For many of the skaters and riders at the park, this is the appeal: a clean, inviting atmosphere for skaters and bike riders alike.

Other parks in the area, like the X Games Skatepark in Dallas, restrict the number of hours bikes are allowed in the park. These parks are often smaller, compact and crowed, which limits the number of runs each rider and skater can have on the ramps.

“You get more runs, and everything is more spread out,” said Mike Romine, 20, of Dallas.

The GPX Skate Park & Entertainment Center is part of Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, about 30 minutes east of TCU. The skate park is easy to find, located right next to Gate 1 off Belt Line Road.The park is a $1.2 million outdoor skating arena built by the city of Grand Prairie, with a recent addition of a hangar area. GPX features three courses: a beginner, an intermediate and a pro course — designed for in-line skating, skateboarding and biking. The site also features a nice-sized vertical ramp, or vert ramp, a necessity for any skate park. Vert ramps are designed in the spirit of ’70s pool skating, made famous by skaters like Tony Alva, Stacey Peralta and Tony Hawk.

Bullick said the park is also adding a dirt course.

GPX appeals to kids of all ages and has gained the approval of some parents.

“It’s cleaner, and not as rough. The staff is all great and they really care about the kids,” said David Barnes of Ducanville, as he watched his sons, Tyler, 13; and Jordan, 14, on the vert ramp.

The park hosts major competitions, like the upcoming Texas Games. The most notable of the events hosted by GPX was the EXPN X-Trials in 2001 and the EXPN Invitational in 2002, both on ESPN. The two events were precursors to the EXPN Summer X Games, the Olympics of non-traditional extreme sports. Each event brought professional BMXers and skateboarders, like Dave Mirra and Andy MacDonald, to Grand Prairie. And with the pros came the fans, securing Texas’s place on the extreme sports map.

This gave GPX the chance to invest in local riders and skaters by sponsoring a team.
The park also holds clinics and camps, offers lessons and holds local competitions, like BMX Bonanza and the Hairy-Agua-Man’s Mini Ramp Competition.

These events give awareness and foster interest in skateboarding and in-line skating, and create an interest in the lesser-known sport of freestyle BMX. Although many people can recall the downhill BMX races of the 1980s, they are not as familiar with the newer trend of freestyle BMX featured in the EXPN X Games and NBC’s Gravity Games. Veterans of the sport, such as Dennis McCoy, are now getting recognition after years of obscurity. The riders at GPX involved in the sport can now find a challenging place to ride, after years of being pushed out of skate parks and city parks.

But skateboarding is not allowed anywhere on campus, according to TCU police. Officials said it can cause damage to university property and the university could be liable if students were injured while skating.

The university has taken steps to discourage skating on campus. Brackets have been placed throughout campus, on handrails and bench areas. These brackets prevent skateboarders and bike riders alike from performing the common trick of grinds.

Sergeant Chris Drake said the first offense of students and visitors skating on campus would be a verbal warning, informing them of a violation of university policy. If the person continues to skate, one of two things will happen: If they are a student, the skater will be cited for violating the Student Code of Conduct and directed to Campus Life; if the skater is a visitor to campus, he or she will be issued a criminal trespassing warning. After the trespassing warning is served, the visitor can be arrested if caught skating on campus again.

The policy makes GPX a good alternative for serious skaters and riders. It is also a good place to start for those who are not that serious about the sports yet, because students can visit the park as spectators or patrons. Students can also benefit from the experience of other riders and skaters in the area, learning new tricks and twists to old ones.

The greatest of these experiences is what to do when you crash headfirst into a wooden ramp, as Powell learned. In most experiences, riders and skaters always remember the famous saying, “No pain. No glory.”

Skate park photo
special to the Skiff

GPX Skate Park & Entertainment Center
1000 Lone Star Parkway
Grand Prairie
(972) 237-4337
www.gpxsk8.com

Park Hours
Regular Hours

Monday-Thursday: 2 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday: 2 p.m. – Midnight
Saturday: 10 a.m. – Midnight
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Summer Hours (June 1 – Sept. 1)
Sunday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – Midnight

Park Costs
Non-Residences Grand Prairie Residences
Skateboarding/In-line $10 per session $5 per session
Freestyle Biking $12 per session $6 per session
Rental Equipment
Knee Pads $2
Elbow Pads $2
Helmets $2
Rental Bike $10
Rental Skateboards $5
or Skates

 
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