Skatepark Shutdown: Daniel Dhers Discusses his Skatepark and COVID-19

It's no secret that privately owned skateparks generally aren't rolling in the dough. Combine that with the fact that fact that most have been forced to shut down over these past few months - generating absolutely no revenue - and we've got a pretty rough situation on our hands.

We spoke with Daniel Dhers to find out what he's doing to keep the lights on at his park and what his plans for the future entail. While much remains a mystery, Daniel is focused on moving forward. 


When did you close the park and what ultimately caused you to make that decision?

I closed the park about 10 days before the country went on lockdown. I saw how crazy it was getting in Europe and figured it would be the responsible thing to do since the park draws so many kids and families. We didn’t want to make our customers unsafe, even though it puts us in a very difficult financial spot.

Did you try scaling back before you had to totally shut down?

We just closed down one Monday and that was it. The information that was out there didn’t seem to give us many options. We ramped up the hand sanitizers and cleaning of the whole place, but I think the bigger issue was having people so close together.

Is there any date or rough idea of when you’re going to be able to open up again?

The stay-at-home orders are until April 29th. The state of North Carolina’s governor says he is going by the scientific data, so not sure if they will extend that order or if I’ll be able to open soon.

The customers stop coming, but the bills don’t stop. How is your park holding up financially?

It’s certainly tough. Our landlord has given us some wiggle room and the rest of the expenses have been very low since we aren’t open to the public. 

At the moment, our locals pros and myself are keeping the place alive.

I see some skateparks starting GoFundMe campaigns in hopes of keeping their doors open. Might it get to this point for DDASC?

We might. The biggest issue is not knowing when we will really be able to open and if people will come once we do. I think we might have to go that route in the next couple of weeks.


What’s happening with your park’s employees?

No one is working at the moment - just Beau from the Scooter Farm - who comes in every few days to ship out some orders and me doing random things at the park. 

I see you - and a pretty solid crew - still riding the park regularly. How are you able to make sure everyone is safe?

When all this started, the prime minister of Japan kept saying the Olympics were moving full steam ahead. Having about eight out of 18 confirmed and possible Olympics athletes, we didn’t wanted to stop our riding. We all came to an agreement to not come in contact with any one outside of our circle - including no trips to the grocery store or anything. I think because we all wanted to keep riding, we understood we are only as strong as our weakest link and have been able to keep safe and continue riding.

Who all fits into this elite crew that is still riding?

Brandon Loupos, Marin Rantes, Justin Dowell, Hannah Roberts, Perris Benegas, Nikita Ducarroz, Daniel Wedemeijer, myself, and Isaac from England who was staying with Justin when all this started.


Have any of these riders stepped up to help out while the park isn’t making money in the way it normally does?

Yeah, they have. It certainly sucks for everyone to add to their expenses in these times, so I really appreciate the help. They are helping keep the place alive until the smoke clears.

Have you had any pushback from the city, building owner, or anyone else about continuing to use the park?

Nothing yet. The order forbids gatherings of 10 or more people and we haven’t gone over nine.

As a pro rider, how do you stay motivated to continue progressing during this dark time with no competitions in sight?

There are two things. First, I didn’t start riding because of competitions, so even without events, I want to ride pretty much every day - if not every day - and scare myself from time-to-time. Second, I haven’t had this much time at home in years. Constantly having to travel around the world was dope, but I needed a break and I noticed how much I’ve been enjoying riding every day without worrying about being ready for the next event. I now have the time to work on tricks I've wanted to do for a long time!

There’s obviously no way to know, but do you think riders will be weary about returning to the park once it’s reopened or do you think they’ll be piling in to battle the hunger they’ve been building up over the past few months?

It’s hard to say. I think kids don’t see the danger of the virus as much as an adult does. I think if they are able to convince their parents to bring them, they will go nuts after being at home for the last month!


Will you be changing anything at the park - the way you clean, the amount of people you allow in the building, etc - once you’re allowed to reopen?

I have been thinking of ways to make it more efficient and cost effective. Maybe we would need a different business model to achieve that without losing quality. I think at this point my biggest concern is, when we are allowed to open, what parameters will we have to meet and if they would work with the dynamic of the park. We'll have to wait and see.

Any advice for skatepark owners and riders currently dealing with this?

With so many different rules and laws around the world, I think it’ll be hard to give an idea on how to make it work right now. As for any advice, I think this might be time to rethink the business model and find a better way for our parks to survive.

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