Posted on Monday, February 20, 2006 by Rob Meronek
MiBAMiWords by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek
The Plan:Drive to Miami to help celebrate the Grand Opening of MIA Skatepark and hopefully get a few photos of Bam in the process. The guys behind MIA are close friends of Skatepark of Tampa, so we naturally feel a brotherhood between skate parks. In addition, two of MIA’s three owners used to work up here under the Skatepark of Tampa roof. Chris Williams used to be the manager of World Market, which was our satellite store way back-in-the-day. The second partner, Ed Selego, actually worked the counter at Skatepark long, long before he was on his way to professional skateboarding stardom. The final man that rounds out the trio that is MIA is Matt Cantor, former owner of Control Skatepark, which was also in Miami.
The trip didn’t actually get fully planned until Thursday and we needed a room near the park for Friday night. That’s when I realized that we are in the middle of tourist season here in Florida. I guess I never really notice it because I don’t do touristy types of things, especially up here in Tampa, but the southern part of the state attracts every pale-skinned, hip-sack-wearing, cookie-cutter, middle-American east of the Mississippi. No need to go on and on about it because the reason that I even started this paragraph is because I wanted to bitch about having to pay $230 for one night at a La Quinta located about 30 miles from the site. There, now I can continue.
The Demo:When I saw the flyer for this MIA Grand Opening/Adio & Planet Earth Demo I thought, “That’s insane. I can’t believe that all of those guys are going to be there, including Bam. I need to check this out.” Even though I thought it would be tough to pull off, I had faith that it would come to fruition because Jeff Taylor, Adio/Earth Bigwig, was in charge. If it has to get done, Jeff will get it done.
Meronek, Abdias, Derewenko, and I were in shock as we pulled up at about 10:45am. The Demo was supposed to start at noon, but the place was already filled to capacity and there were at least 600 people out front hoping to get a glimpse of the action. We hung in the parking lot for a good half hour trying to figure out how the hell we were going to get into the joint.
It was just our luck that a carload of Adio and MIA Team Riders pulled up, so we were whisked in with the likes of Kenny Anderson, Steve Nesser, Danny Montoya, Joey Bresinski, Chris Troy, Brian Delatorre, and a few others while the onlookers said, “Who’s that? Is he pro?”
The place was insanely packed to where you couldn’t even skate the street course (which looked damn good though), so I opted to hang out on the mini-ramp. All of the guys at the Demo warmed up on the mini, so along with the aforementioned skaters, I also got to ride with Ghuru Khalsa, Brian Sumner, Jahmal Williams, Joel Meinholtz, and Jeremy Wray, while Ernie Torres watched due to nursing an injury. Have I dropped enough names yet?
And then it was on. Outside there was a gathering of many, many kids being held back by security guards. There were kooks with cargo shorts and pony tails that apparently worked for MTV (they were filming an episode of Viva La Bam) all over the place…and then it happened. The RV in which Bam was riding made its grand entrance.
The Bam Phenomenon:The Bam Phenomenon is something that I just don’t understand, but it was a damn cool thing to watch. He came out of the RV and the crowd went completely nuts. The head security guy had to play linebacker to get Bam into the building. MTV had everything properly planned as they instructed the crowd inside to scream at the “right” time.
The Demo went into full effect as soon as Bam stepped foot in the building. As things got into full swing and Nick Dompierre proceeded to destroy the perfect granite hubba, Bam’s parents and that fat-ass Don Vito made their way in, right across the street course. I think his folks almost got a bigger round of applause than Bam himself did. Side note: I heard that Vito nearly ate the MIA Snack Bar completely out of Choco Tacos.
All MTV bull$hi! aside, I was hyped and truly respect the fact that Bam can still rip on a skateboard. It took him a few tries, but his switch backside tailslide across the granite hubba was perfect and then he ended the day with a 30’ krooked grind. Granted, it was only a k-grind, but it was lengthy and definitely a crowd pleaser. The rest of Adio Team was destroying the course…and it all must have been too good to be true.
The Cops and our DepartureNext thing you know there’s one cop car outside. Then another arrived. And then another pulled up. When they all finally showed up, the scene seriously looked like something straight out of Reno 911. We were totally cracking up at these dudes’ short-shorts, mustaches, and crazy-ass shades. It’s like they put that gear on just to make you want to make fun of them so they would have a reason to hassle you.
Before you know it, Cantor is outside explaining what was going on to the cops, but it was to no avail. He should have told them that he would let them pose in photos with Bam for their kids or something…that might have worked. The final word was that they were closing the place down. All in all, even though it may have seemed a bit chaotic to an outsider, everything was completely under control. The Demo was going down and kids were getting autographs. MTV got a portion of a show out of the deal and MIA had one hell of a Grand Opening, which turned into a “grand closing,” but they’re sorting all that nonsense out with the City this week.
That was the shortest trip possible to Miami. We arrived at midnight on Friday night and were back on the road to Tampa by 3pm on Saturday. It was totally worth it; the hospitality was amazing and we had a great time checking out MIA Skatepark. Thanks to the entire crew there for making it all happen and thanks to Jeff Taylor at Adio for supporting what our boys in Miami are trying to do down there.