In a lonely corner of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in the shadow of Philip Johnson’s decaying New York State Pavilion, construction workers are filling the Astral Fountain with huge chunks of styrofoam, which will then be covered with concrete.
Is styrofoam really a good idea as a building material?
“I guess so,” a worker told us, shrugging. “It doesn’t have to be heavy. They gonna skate down here. They say they build skate parks like this all the time like this — very light.”
When it’s complete, the former Astral Fountain will be the site of the first “Maloof Money Cup New York,” held the weekend of June 5th and 6th. The event, one of two Money Cups in the U.S., will draw professional skaters from around the world.
More than just a big party, however, New York will end up with a free skate park out of the deal.
Stinking rich NBA owners Joe and Gavin Maloof (they own the Sacramento Kings) came up with the idea for their “Maloof Money Cup” a couple of years ago and it pretty much knocked the skateboarding world on its ass.
The first event was held in Orange County with a record-setting $450,000 purse. This time, the Maloofs are going bicoastal, with a street-skating competition here and a street and vertical competition going on out west.
For the New York event, the Maloofs, Monster Energy, and Vans are building the new park and will donate it to the city after the event through the Parks & Recreation Department’s “Adopt-A-Park Program.” It will then be known as the Skate Park at the Astral Fountain.
The 16,000-square-foot course, designed by pro skaters Chris Cole, Geoff Rowley and Steve Rodriguez, is reportedly costing some $1.8 million to build. It’s being built by California Skateparks.
For a construction site that is going to host an international sporting event in a couple of weeks, it’s not much to look at right now. Bags of styrofoam surround the site, waiting to be placed, arranged, and covered with the concrete churning in a nearby truck. “It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle,” one construction worker told us.
And it looks like they are just building a lot of steps in a circle. Like the nearby panaramodome, the park will be a microcosm of sites from New York, which to the untrained eye it might just look like a bunch of stairs, not going to any particular direction.
But skaters will recognize these stairs and levels as belonging to infamous buildings and plazas from all five boroughs. Steps and banks have been recreated from Union Square, Police Plaza, and the Brooklyn Con-Ed building. Instead of having to dodge cops and security guards in these locations, skaters will be encouraged to tear the place up.
Ironically, the Astral Fountain is far smaller than the enormous fountain base of the nearby Unisphere. This was an actual skate site that was long utilized by many skaters, without any official “skate park” status. Alas, it has recently been fenced off, presumably to keep skaters out.
Flushing Meadows-Crotona Park has struggled to remain relevant, pretty much ever since the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs ended. The Park was made for the 1939 fair, and Robert Moses fit another, unofficial World’s Event in in 1964. That was the last event to fully utilize the park. Parts of it are well used, but large swatches of the sprawling grounds remains quite lonely and underutilized.
The new skate park might bring some life to its corner, which is right next to Philip Johnson’s decaying, dying New York State Pavilion. In fact, since Diana Ross danced beneath it in “The Wiz,” it’s pretty much been turning to rust.
The new Skate Park looks right down the lane at the Unisphere, another semi useless landmark, built by U.S. Steel for the 1964 fair. It’s more famous for being the place where Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones greeted the aliens in “Men in Black.”
The Maloof Money Cup is free to the public, but tickets are required.