Since opening on April 5, 2002, the Louisville Extreme Park has achieved fame as one of the world's best skateparks. On any given day, a visitor to the Extreme Park is likely to encounter skateboarders, bicyclists and in-line skaters from down the street and across the nation, from small children skating under the watchful eye of their parents to teenagers and young professionals.
As a result of lobbying by local skateboarders and bicyclists, active planning for the Louisville Extreme Park began in January 1999. Local government officials recognized the need for a place where children and young professionals could practice their skills without disrupting businesses.
A task force of local officials, extreme athletes and parents convened to discuss features that should be included in the park. Meanwhile, officials found a location for the park, just east of downtown in a corridor that is attracting technology businesses and arts organizations. The site provides good access to public transportation and multi-use recreation paths.
Public input sessions in 2000 gave likely park users the opportunity to communicate exactly what features they believed needed to be included in a skatepark that would be unique to Louisville. Using clay, participants were actually able to sculpt the bowls and ramps they wanted.
In April 2001, Metro Parks broke ground on the Extreme Park. Joined by athletes from ESPN's B3 Games, local officials announced that Louisville would open the first phase of a world-class skatepark within a year. More than 4,000 spectators turned out for the park's grand opening in April 2002.
Later that year, the Extreme Park hosted its first major event - the Tony Hawk Gigantic Skatepark Tour, which set a tour record with 8,000 to 10,000 spectators in attendance on a sweltering summer day.
Two new bike and pedestrian pathways, adding improved access to the park from streets to the north and south, opened in December 2003. A permanent restroom building replaced temporary restroom facilities in Spring 2004, resolving the most frequent complaint about the otherwise popular park.