the utopia skatepark story
  9 months


Down in Raleigh there was this skatepark. the stuff legends were made of. massive. indoors. team pain built. but by the time most people found out about it and planned a trip, it was gone. i started visiting the park after running into the builders at a local bar. i stopped going after they bulldozed the bowl. in between, i helped the park by taking photos and videos of all sorts of action and put them on a website (splash pic below) and promo video. so im writing about something i was a part of, with a lot of hindsight, as it's 21 years later i write the story i've wanted to tell for a long time.

negativeion presents utopia
graphic for old website, hence the color scheme here


3   kruse   ellis   thinkin   v

Dave Ellis and the team pain wood crew 1999
click this for some construction photos


the park was doomed from the start, between the owners embezzeling money for the start up costs, to the city of raleigh being completly ridiculous about rules and regulations pertaining to the new buisness. not to mention the owners didnt really know shit about running a skatepark or building things. the young owner was known to be a complete liar by some.

Neal Hendrix. team pain Jeff: 2:08

the father son duo of mark and dusty were involved in a scam, somewhere up north, like chicago. money was scammed on a copper removal job from a hospital. thats how this huge park started. and some money from a local lawyer called Henry. these guys incurred massive bills they never saw coming. the special concrete floor for the 10,000 sq foot street course had to be redone twice. the fire department made them put sprinklers under every ramp over 4' tall and board them up. the city made them plant trees and put parking blocks and mulch in the ghetto lot. i feel like these guys were trying to make a cool thing out of a shitty dilapidated space, and the city just kept on them with useless tasks.

Anthony Furlong. Brian Howard. Jesse Fritsch: 2:25

i have no idea who designed the bowl, i know Dave Ellis was the main guy behind the build of it. i know Mike Sinclair designed the street course. other people involved at this point were the screen print guy, Ron, who did a lot more than that, and Brian Wainwright, legendary skateboard and roller skater that lived in the warehouse and did little maintenance jobs.

Chet Childress. Brian Patch. Kyle Berard. Jim Cagne. Jesse Piaz. Mike Peterson. Mike Sinclair. Justin Strubing. Mike Carrol: 2:58

so the parks been open less than 2 months and they have a pro vert and street contest with a $20,000 purse, which was pretty big for that time. lots of heads showed up, but not all the best made it. Brian Howard won his first (and maybe only) vert contest, Matt Dove won the best trick and I think Kyle Berard won the street (i think he won 3 street contests there). but the real winner that day was chet childress, as he was one of the few to jet to the bank and cash that prize check before the funds ran dry. most skaters prize checks bounced. Brian Patch was the real champ. he ripped in the street and vert event as well as killed the bowl to end the weekend

Mike Fraizer. Mike Crum. Brian Patch. Matt Dove. Phil Hajal. Sergie Ventura. Brian Howard: 3:12

mark rhodes is damn near a unicorn, a mythical creature - Mike Sinclair

Mike Fraizer. Mike Crum. Brian Patch. Matt Dove. Phil Hajal. Sergie Ventura. Brian Howard. Al Partanen. Pee Wee. Jay Stevenson. Neal Hendrix. Anthony Furlong. Mike Crum. Phil Hajal: 27:28


furlong   sergie ventura   phil hajal   brian howard   mike crum

anthony furlong . sergie ventura . phil hajal . brian howard . mike crum
click for 60 photos of the pros warming up


Brian Patch. Al Partanen. Brian Wainwright. Trey Winslow. Ryan Wilburn. Don Barley. Ben Conway. Steve Kuhn. Sergie Ventura: 3:33

Brian Patch. Al Partanen. Brian Wainwright. Trey Winslow. Ryan Wilburn. Don Barley. Ben Conway. Steve Kuhn. Sergie Ventura: 10:52

volcom came through 11.19.99 on the we will speak to you tour

Mike Peterson. Kyle Berard. Bob Renolds. Shawn Springer. Ben Conway. Jerry Hahn: 5:07

Tony Hawk came through on the whoopass tour 12.3.99

Tony Hawk: 5:33

the beast of the east finals were held there 12.5.99

Bob Renolds. Jay Moody. Waldo. Kyle Berard...: 2:21

after the check bounce fiasco(which was one of many check bouncing schemes by mark and dusty), Henry dumped the rhodes and partnered up with this guy Neil (a used car salesmen). Neil brought in Paul. Paul was hired to manage the park and just happened to know nothing about skateboarding, but was a good friend of my roomates. so i had Paul asking me a lot of questions and telling me a lot of stories about what was going on. we worked well together, but there was a lot of politics, not much money and maybe even more embezzeling. things were going in lots of directions. the owner started a skateboard company called Dreamworld to go with his utopia park. the park hired some bikers to build the largest box jump for Dave Mira to come and do a double backflip for an EXPN event. in the next couple of months a few skate and even more bike events happened. they hauled in tons of dirt for bike jumps in the parking lot for 1 event....

there was an amateur street contest called the thawout in february

Ben Conway. Jed Shooter. Waldo. Kyle Berard...: 1:30

some vans riders stopped by with P-Stone

Preston Maigetter. Chet Childress. Jay Adams...: 1:28

and then that was it. i dont know all the details, but i'm sure the lawyer just kept having to put more money into it to do these events that didnt even break even. they tried to get the bike crowd at the end, with a few big events, but i think raleigh didnt have that many extreme residents back then. not many skaters locally wanted to pay, so it was usually pretty empty.

and Tony Hawk came back through on the secret skatepark tour

Tony Hawk. Jason Ellis. Anthony Furlong. Bucky Lasek: 5:10

Brian Wainwright. Morris Wainwright. Dave Maxwell. Chuck Powell. Jerry Hahn. Brian Fick. Steve Kuhn: 8:16

it was closed for months and the sessions continued as we would see ramps leave. i believe a lot of the bike stuff went to a park in Wilmington, NC. Brewce Martin was trying to get the bowl, but i think the logistics of moving it to ohio were too much on top of having to buy it.

Kyle Berard. Sergie Ventura. Pee Wee. Brian Drake...: 5:17

i dont remember much of the park being saved. i did write down: henry trashes the park, rather than give it up. no one was buying. he paid to have the park bulldozed. he was spiteful he lost a lot of money. the landlord (Pendelton) kept charging rent as decisions were not being made. i just remember crying when i saw the pile of dozed bowl.


chvk   hnry   jh   vb   chck

chuck powell . henry gutierrez . jerry hahn . fork crew . chuck powell
that's all the bowl photos i have!


Brian Wainwright. Morris Wainwright. Dave Maxwell. Chuck Powell. Jerry Hahn. Ben Conway. Tim Kulas. team pain Rob. Henry Gutierrez. Sergie Ventura: 2:17

Brian Wainwright. Morris Wainwright. Dave Maxwell. Chuck Powell:12:17

Brian Wainwright. Morris Wainwright. Dave Maxwell. Chuck Powell. Jerry Hahn. Ben Conway. Tim Kulas. team pain Rob. Henry Gutierrez. Sergie Ventura. Matt Moore. Jimmy Leaphart...:20:30

just a moment to give thanks
give thanks to the passion in skateboarding
give thanks to those who build skateparks with passion
give thanks to Dave Ellis (RIP)
thank you for the amazing bowl
the last sesh was 7.30.00

science tricks

Dave Maxwell. Science Fair: 8:23

two of the best things about this park, Dave Maxwell and Brian Wainwright. watching these guys skate this park was a privledge for me. they are both masters with experience, skill and passion on this wooden toy that guides me. because of this bowl, i have 2 great lifelong friends.

the stash of Brian footage is worth a click or two

Brian Wainwright: 6:55

Brian Wainwright: 6:22

how do i want to end such an article, or as i like to call it, presentation? i'm so thankful for all that made this place happen. skating this amazing bowl got me hooked on roundwall skateboarding, and watching the city of raleigh shit on something so cool was appauling. so i left. i left in search of better roundwall and better government. thats how i ended up in colorado (via charleston). i left a cushy job in a massive university to go skate after that bowl. oh the places skateboarding will take you...

jerry     2.7.21


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