Skaters rally to preserve downtown Tampa's "Bro Bowl"

City wants to tear down 'Bro Bowl' skate park

TAMPA - "There isn't anything like the Bro Bowl left," said Lance Robson. 

You can call it a skate park.

"It's got a big, long hill to bomb and then it goes into a dish, a really sweet skateboarding dish," said Robson.

Some say it's more of a sanctuary.

"There's absolutely nothing better than skating here with four or five of your friends," he explained.

Tampa's Bro Bowl is filled to the brim with 30 years of gritty nostalgia, no fences, no fee, and no pads.

"It's the only surviving concrete park from the 70's," said Shannon Bruffett, with Tampa's Skateboarding Heritage Foundation. http://www.skateboardingheritage.org/

Bruffett says the Bro Bowl was built during the Golden Era of skateboarding along with hundreds of others. It's one of the only old-school parks left.

"I used to rely on rides or a bus ticket or whatever to get out here," he said.

41-year old Shannon Bruffett and 40-year old Lance Robson have collected 600 signatures to save the Bro Bowl. http://www.change.org/petitions/the-city-of-tampa-florida-preserve-the-perry-harvey-sr-park-skateboard-bowl-bro-bowl

"Who doesn't think that what they did in their teenage years was great, a ballpark that they went to or an amusement park," said Robson.

Watch Robson's documentary called The Bro Bowl: 30 Years of Tampa Concrete and you'll see pretty much every big name in the skating world, including Tony Hawk, has dropped-in here. http://www.brobowldoc.com/home.html

But even a documentary and the history may not be enough.

"Any bit of counter-culture that gets absorbed into the mainstream has a history and skateboarding has history," said Robson.

The city wants to bulldoze the Bro Bowl and build a new, updated one.  The Encore development is going up beside it and Perry Harvey Senior Park will get a $3-million dollar facelift to cater to new neighbors.

"It's more than nostalgia. It's a living testament, a living example of history and we don't have that a lot in Tampa," said Bruffett.

Nothing's set in concrete yet, except the Bro Bowl's legendary status.  City leaders are planning a series of neighborhood meetings in August to solicit ideas for the makeover. 

"I don't know what the Kevin Bacon factor is, but you know I'm sure everyone knows someone who's skated at the Bro Bowl," said Robson.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments