Guantanamo Bay Skatepark

Iguana friend, originally uploaded by spohnranchskateparks.

Thanks to Spohn Ranch Skateparks, the skatepark at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base just got a whole lot better. Guantanamo Bay, known more for its controversial detention camps than its skateboarding scene, is located in southeastern Cuba and was taken under U.S. control in 1903. As part of the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Program (MWR), the U.S. military hired Spohn Ranch to enhance their current skatepark with the construction of a pre-cast SpohnCrete ™ bowl and a skateable art piece known as a “half-moon” bank. By using Spohn’s state-of-the-art technology, the U.S. military knew they could make their facilities on par with stateside skateparks, and improve their ability to raise the morale of the sailors, their families, and the entire Guantanamo community.

After being chosen for this project in February 2009, the Spohn Ranch team flew from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they boarded a small twin-engine airplane and began their journey towards the United States’ oldest overseas Navy Base. Upon arrival at the Naval Base, the team observed their stunning surroundings and waited for the colossal barge containing their pre-cast concrete pieces.

Once the barge pulled into the port, Mark Bradford, construction supervisor, immediately began executing the construction plan. Using a 100-ton crane, they transported the sections of the concrete bowl off the barge and onto a concrete slab near the existing skatepark. Then Bradford worked with a local crew made up of Jamaicans and Filipinos to set the pieces in place, pour concrete into the floor of the bowl, perform grout work, and create a top deck. Throughout this process, the local kids watched and waited with gleeful anticipation for the moment they could drop in and begin carving around the smooth corners of the bowl. In addition to the Spohncrete ™ bowl, Bradford and the local construction workers also transported the pre-cast concrete half-moon bank off the barge and seamlessly integrated it into the existing skatepark.

Spohn Ranch’s commitment to the soldiers’ back-smith grinds and promotion of skateboarding around the world rang true when they accepted this unique opportunity. When it was all said and done, the Spohn team left Guantanamo Bay having made significant and unique upgrades to the skatepark in less than a week. These improvements also came just in time for a demo at the park that featured the talents of professional skateboarder Mimi Knoop, which was sure to boost the morale of the Guantanamo community. For further information on this project, stay tuned to Fuel TV for complete video coverage documenting the production process.

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