Most people know that Tampa’s fame lies in cigars. But for extreme sports enthusiasts round the world, Tampa is a famous skateboarding capital. And a piece of its skateboarding history is under threat from urban redevelopment.

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20 year old Mike O’Brien has skateboarded at what’s called the Bro Bowl for three and half years, although it’s older than he is. The Bro Bowl in downtown Tampa is a public, open-air skateboarding site – a cement depression in the inner city Perry Harvey Park, painted green with mounds built into the middle. And it’s one of the oldest such places in the country, built when the new sport skateboarding rolled out of California in the late 1970s. Yet soon, it may itself be history.

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Brad Suder is the Tampa parks and recreation project manager in charge of redeveloping Perry Harvey Park, home of the Bro Bowl.

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With its current proposed plans to be revealed on Monday at a public hearing, the city of Tampa will demolish the original Bro Bowl and rebuild it north of its current site. This disappoints local skateboarding enthusiasts, like David Miller.

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Miller has skated at the bowl since 1985 and now takes his sons there. He’s led calls to urge skateboarders around the world to write the city of Tampa in protest. The city’s Brad Suder says he’s received around 100 emails and 40 handwritten letters in support of keeping the Bro Bowl.

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So what’s the big deal about a 27-year-old cement depression bordered by housing projects to the east, the interstate to the north and downtown to the south? It’s been touched by the wheels of the world’s best known skateboarder. Tony Hawk. It’s such an important spot, says David Miller, Hawk even put it in his video games.

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[nat sound SPOT music then under] The Skatepark of Tampa opened in 1993 in a warehouse in the industrial part of East Columbus Drive. Retail manager Sean Albright says it’s there in East Tampa where two of the biggest skateboarding events in the country happen twice a year.

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And there’s a professional event that brings the likes of Tony Hawk, Mike Frazier and Andrew Reynolds.

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After these events, the pros go to Bro Bowl for outdoor skateboarding. It’s free and open to the public all day long. Albright says that’s what makes it such an important part of the community.

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Tampa Parks and Rec project manager Brad Suder says that the city is dedicated to keeping skateboarding in the park, just in a different location. It’s options are relocating it or destroying it altogether because the city is under orders from the Florida Department of Transportation to widen Orange Avenue, where the bowl is located.

But local skateboarder Mike O’Brien doesn’t want to see the Bro Bowl go.

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The City of Tampa will hold it’s final public hearing on its plans to redevelop Perry Harvey Park at 5:30 pm Monday October 23 at Central Park Auditorium at 1000 India Street in Tampa. For more information call Brad Suder at 813 231 1336.

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