Brick City is getting decked out.
Newark is set to build another skatepark, thanks to a $110,000 donation from the Rob Dyrdek Foundation announced at the Prudential Center Thursday morning. Once completed, the Hayes Park East skatepark will feature course obstacles, like ramps and rails, from the Street League DC Pro Tour championship taking place at "The Rock" Sunday.
"For the city to embrace us and for the mayor to get behind us … it's all in a grand effort to showcase modern skateboarding and build safe and legal places inside communities for kids to be able to skateboard. That's really what I'm about," said Rob Dyrdek, a professional skateboarder who stars in MTV's "Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory." Dyrdek is also the founder of Street League Skateboarding, a worldwide professional skateboarding contest series.
The Rob Dyrdek Foundation is donating up to $50,000-worth of in-kind design work and $25,000 for construction costs for the new skatepark. The course obstacles, to be donated by Street League Skateboarding, are valued at $35,000.
The new skatepark is part of the largest expansion of the city's parks system in more than a century, with more than 50 acres of new and reconstructed parks, according to Newark Mayor Cory Booker. It will be the second skatepark in Newark; the first opened in September 2009 in Jesse Allen Park in the South Ward.
"I want to see this sport that is growing in monstrous proportions continue to do so because I know it's impact firsthand, I know what it's doing for kids in my city," said Booker, adding his Twitter feed has been "blowing up" with buzz about the new park.
Calling Newark a "progressive" city for already having one skatepark, Dyrdek said building more in the city could be key to keeping kids busy - and safe.
"(Skateboarding) is a real cornerstone to fall in love with something they can be passionate about and stay out of trouble," he said. "It's just so great because the kids get to watch on TV or come here and watch their favorite pros skate the same thing they get to skate six months or a year later."
John Lodge, 22, is one of many skate enthusiasts in the city applauding the new addition to Hayes Park East. Lodge, a South Ward resident and owner of Certified Skateboards, said he's been pushing for a greater skate presence in Brick City for years.
"Skateboarding was supposed to be like a suburban thing, and now when it hits inner-cities … it brings all these different fundamental elements that children are going to learn," said Lodge, whose company gave away 100 skateboards and pairs of shoes to Newark youth last year. "They're going to learn confidence, not being afraid to fail. It gives them something positive to do. They find who they are through skateboarding."
Skateboarding also builds and strengthens communities, according to Quim Cardona, a professional skateboarder who toured with Dyrdek years ago.
"Yeah, it's a sport, but it's definitely community-based," said Cardona, who lives in the Ironbound. "We have one common bond: skateboarding."
Following the announcement Thursday, Dyrdek and Booker toured the Prudential Center arena, which is being converted into a concrete skatepark for the Street League championship Sunday. Inside "The Rock," workers were busy pouring fresh concrete onto the arena floor to create smooth platforms, rails and ramps for the fourth and final stop of the competition, dubbed the Superbowl of skating. Ten professional skaters will compete for title of Street League champion and $200,000, the largest first-place prize in skateboarding history.
"Nothing has ever been done on this scale ever in the history of action sports," said Dyrdek of the winner-take-all championship.
Sixteen-year-old Nyjah Huston, who won the first three stops of the tour, is the favorite to beat Sunday with 300 total points.
"We have our young phenom that hasn't lost yet," said Dyrdek of Huston. "If he wins, that's the first professional skateboarder in history - not Tony Hawk, not anyone - to make a million dollars in prize money. And at 16, he'd be the first to do that."
The Street League DC Pro Tour will broadcast live on ESPN2 this Sunday at 5 p.m. eastern.