Seattle Center is moving forward on a new Skate Plaza following the selection of Grindline Skateparks to undertake construction of the 18,000 square-foot facility. Construction prep began this month. The skate plaza will occupy a span of public right-of-way, formerly Broad Street,  between Fifth Avenue North and Taylor Avenue along Thomas Street. The Mercer Corridor improvements project closed the street area in 2014. The new plaza replaces Seattle Center Skatepark, which closed in 2018. 

Starting in 1990, Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks has specialized in the planning, design, construction and programming of cast-in-place concrete skateparks, nationally and internationally.

The new skate plaza represents a multi-pronged, partnered effort to fulfill a commitment to the Seattle skateboarding community to continue to provide an outstanding and versatile skateboarding experience at Seattle Center, while allowing for the redevelopment of an aging, outmoded sports and events arena. With construction set to begin this fall, the new skate plaza is expected to open in mid-2021. 

“Skate parks at Seattle Center, from SeaSkate to Seattle Center Skatepark, have provided an outlet for young people with an enthusiasm for boarding the opportunity to build and hone their skills, where they can enjoy healthy social engagement and enliven a portion of the streetscape,” Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams said in a press release. “I can’t think of a better use of this vacated street than filling it with this kind of creative, active life.”

The Seattle Center Skatepark Coalition, which included longtime skate community activists and the nonprofit Skate Like A Girl, worked closely with Seattle Center to create an accommodating and inspiring plaza design. They collaborated with the project team to produce a public outreach process that included online and in-person forums and met skateboarders — including youth — on their own terms. The result is a park plan that focuses on creating a safe space for beginners and skateboarders of all skill levels, according to the press release.

“Skate Like a Girl is super excited to see forward momentum on this Seattle Center Plaza project and wants to thank each person who provided input online, came to an event or showed up at any other point to make this project reality,” Skate Like A Girl Executive Director Kristin Ebeling said in the press release. “Right now, young people have no skate spaces between the central district and Green Lake, and many of our existing parks cater to more expert skaters. Providing a centralized and safe park for all skaters to progress and build community will fill a gap in our network of skate spaces in Seattle. We can't wait to welcome our community back to our clinics and skate camps in Summer 2021!” 

Seattle Arena Co/Oak View Group contributed $500,000 to relocating the skatepark as part of its agreement with the City of Seattle to redevelop and manage Climate Pledge Arena. Seattle City Council supported relocation of the skatepark as an important part of the Arena project, and in July 2019, the Council approved transferal of the land from the Seattle Department of Transportation to Seattle Center for purposes of constructing, operating and maintaining a public skate plaza, according to the press release. Seattle Design Commission supported the project and reviewed the proposed design. 

A skate park has existed at Seattle Center since the 1990s. Initially, it resided on part of a parking lot, now the world headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was re-imagined and rebuilt on the Arena property in 2009 and was demolished in 2019 to redevelop the site. The new skate plaza is designed for street-style skateboarding, with a focus on providing flexible space for beginner-level skateboarders to learn and practice skills. Local artist Perri Howard will re-install the original artwork she created for the 2009 skatepark, including a glass wallride, in the new location. The site encompasses a public alleyway, with skating spaces on either side, connected by a sidewalk. If possible in the future, Seattle Center plans to connect the two sides into one continuous space. 

To learn more about activities at Seattle Center, and to connect to virtual Seattle Center experiences, visit www.seattlecenter.com or call 206 684-7200.