Fight over whether to preserve Bro Bowl heats up

To Fred Hearns, the Bro Bowl couldn’t be in a worse location. The aging skate spot is in the middle of Perry Harvey Senior Park, which Hearns is helping to redevelop as head of a citizen advisory committee.
Tampa's Mayor secured $2 million in federal funding to redevelop the park and pay tribute to the city's rich African
American History. Some argue a concrete skate park has no place among a black history walk.
"That was the only place that African Americans could go and feel comfortable sitting down in a restaurant, going to a movie theatre, going to a nightclub,” Hearns said.
Hearns vows the local African American community will protest if the Bro Bowl isn't moved.
"We're going to make the national news over and over and over again if this bowl stays at the expense of celebrating black history," he said at a public meeting Wednesday.
But Tampa native Shannon Bruffett said part of Central Avenue's history is the concrete skate structure. It's one of the very few still standing from the 1970s and the only one added to the National Register of Historic Places.
"My emotional connection is much the same as Fred Hearns. My heart is there. It connected me to Central Avenue," Bruffet said.
He grew up skating here and so did a lot of inner city youth, right alongside the biggest names in the skating world, including Tony Hawk.
"It's just like any other important structure in Tampa. Its integrity rests in its bones," said Bruffett, director of Skateboarding Heritage Foundation.
That’s why Bruffet is fighting to save the bowl, a battle that seems to be heating up as the city's timeline on the park redevelopment gets tighter and tighter.
"I'm hoping this won't take much longer because Encore as we speak is developing and people are moving into that area. They deserve a park," said Hearns.
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