Local filmmakers capture the best of the Bowl
After years of indecision, local skaters still wonder about the fate of a venue visited by generations of extreme sport enthusiasts.
Tampa Bay is no stranger to demolition in the name of urbanization. All too often, buildings are torn down to make way for bigger and better establishments, wider highways and high-rise condominiums. Now, a little piece of extreme sport heaven in downtown Tampa is next on the list of targets for civic expansion.
For more than three decades, The Bro Bowl of Tampa has been a top-rated hangout among skateboarders, and is even a featured skate spot in a Tony Hawk video game. Rumors circulating in recent years, however, suggest that its days are numbered. The city promises to rebuild the Bowl at a different location in the park, but many of its patrons wonder if that promise will come through.
In honor of the Bowl’s potentially final days, Tampa natives Lance Robson, Troy Durrett and John DeMaio are combining their creative talents to offer some insight into the local skateboarding Mecca that is the Bro Bowl. The three friends are filming a documentary that will celebrate the Bowl’s unique qualities and offer a positive memory for its patrons. Creative photographer Robson, who has been skating and photographing the Bowl since the early `90s, discussed the film, skateboarding and the impact of the Bro Bowl on the community.
“Troy and I have been skating the Bowl since our late teens. Since we have gotten older, the Bowl is the kind of skate spot that is more agreeable to those of us who can’t take as much abuse. It’s a great spot for people of all skill levels and it doesn’t take a great level of ability to skate. The fact that it’s free is fantastic. There are no rules except to be respectful,” Robson said.
A wave of organizations fought to save the Bowl from destruction when news of its possible demise initially broke out, including the now disabled savethebrobowl.com and the Tony Hawk Foundation. Hype died down when patrons realized an agreement with city officials would not soon be reached. The creators of the Bro Bowl documentary aim to capture more than the battle to preserve the park.
“We sort of feel like we missed out on the save-the-Bowl aspect of it. We are trying to celebrate the Bowl and all the fun that has been had there over the years. If we make people aware of that, then maybe they will be more active to help keep it around. The longer it takes for developers to make a move, the better it looks for us,” said Robson.
Brad Suder, the project manager at Steve Harvey Park, knows firsthand how upset skaters are about the Bowl’s possible destruction. He assures them that the park will be rebuilt but is unaware of when that will actually happen. A timeframe for reconstruction is yet to be decided.
“All we can say is that the skate park is scheduled to be rebuilt as part of the renovations to the park. We are hoping to add better and safer elements to the Bowl, but financing for the project needs to be resolved first,” Suder said. “The project has been on hold by the Supreme Court attorneys for a while now; we are still waiting for the go-ahead.”
The filmmakers made it a point to express that the film’s creative process is a joint effort. Durrett is directing the documentary, DeMaio is the videographer and Robson is the photographer. Although they are all involved in different forms of media, their love for the Bowl is what united them in their desire to make the documentary.
“Troy and I have skated there for so long. Whenever we are both back in town, we make it a point to go and hit the Bowl for a little while,” said Robson. “We were all throwing ideas around one day and realized we could make something really cool. The idea for the film really just popped out of thin air.”
The Bro Bowl documentary is scheduled for completion sometime in 2009. Until then, Robson, Durrett and DeMaio plan on soaking up every bit of their childhood hangout while they still can.
“Like anything else, if you’ve never visited the Bowl, you should check it out, because we are not certain how long it is going to be there and it’s important to give it some love while it’s still around.” Robson said.
For more information on the documentary, visit brobowldoc.com.