Turning Love to Paine

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In 2002, the city of Philadelphia killed a landmark (no, not the Rocky statue). That was when the long process of banning skateboarding from LOVE Park was complete, ending what had made the park a cultural icon. Since then, a group of skateboarders has been lobbying the city to create another public space for the city's skateboarding citizens. In 2003, the group, dubbed Franklin's Paine, managed to procure a prime plot of land near the art museum and Schuylkill river, but saw little else in terms of progress until very recently. In the last year, Philly agency Red Tettemer joined with the group and have since led a marketing effort to promote and raise funds for a new LOVE--Paine's Park.

"It's not often a project like this comes along that's so perfectly aligned with who we are and what we're about," says agency president and chief creative officer Steve Red. "We love our hometown and we especially love the creative community here and we always try to find ways to support that and get involved and this is just a perfect way to do that."

LOVE started as public park named for John F.Kennedy in 1965, with the iconic LOVE sculpture added in 1976, but it wasn't until the 1980s that its flat surfaces and concrete benches and ledges become a choice destination for Philly skaters.
Stevie Williams
Stevie Williams
By 2001, LOVE had churned out pro skaters like Stevie Williams, Ricky Oyola and Josh Kalis and become enough of an internationally-known skateboard spot to lure the X Games to Philly in both '01 and '02, and later appear in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and Underground 2 video games. In December 2007, the city, in what seems like a philosophical about-face (perhaps hoping to avoid any incidents), donated $1 million to the Paine's Park project.

"We need $6 million to break ground so this is a significant chunk," says Red. "The city's donation has made a lot of people sit up and take notice and believe in this thing. Once it's built it needs to stay true to the skate community and the community at large. But as much as this means financially, it means more symbolically. Each large, significant contribution signals to others that this project will indeed become a reality and that's been one of our biggest challenges to overcome."Upon its involvement, Red Tettemer has worked to brand the project under the slogan "From Love Comes Paine." The effort includes a poster campaign, a line of t-shirts carried in local shops and Urban Outfitters, and a just-relaunched website featuring videos of support from the original Franklin's Paine skaters, Paine's Park architect Anthony Bracalli and Stevie Williams. Williams is an especially welcome partner, given his stature in the worldwide skate community, his DGK line for Reebok and still-strong affiliations with Philly.

Proposed Paine's Park design
Proposed Paine's Park design
Another advantage the project has over a typical skate park proposal is the design. Bracalli's vision for Paine's Park is for skateboarding -- as it was at LOVE, San Francisco's famed Embarcadero and in most of Barcelona -- to be a natural part of the environment. Instead of the usual ramps, ledges and concrete bowls, it's a public space that's infinitely skateable.

"We've tried to paint Paine's Park as a symbol for where Philadelphia is headed and the need to attract the young creative class," says Red. "At first mention, the larger investor community often thinks of a skate park as a parking lot with a couple ramps in it. So we talk about the significance of skateboarding to the city, its past, and the audience that it attracts and why that's valuable to Philadelphia."

The agency anticipates more major contribution announcements this spring and hopes are to break ground on Paine's Park before the end of the year.
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