Turf Skatepark (also known as "Surfin' Turf" or "The Turf") is a former skatepark located in Greenfield, Wisconsin, less than one mile south of the city of Milwaukee. The Turf was an indoor/outdoor facility consisting of five sculptured concrete pools providing some of the best terrain of its time.
The Turf included five sculptured concrete pools:
- The Lip Slide Gully: 4-foot-deep (1.2 m) pool, with a gradual 30-foot (9.1 m) entry to a shallow pool
- The Footie Bowl: 5-foot-deep (1.5 m), 23-foot-diameter (7.0 m) pool with a comma-shaped roll-in, the transition was similar to most mini ramps
- The Triple Pool (aka The Clover): 3 connecting bowls (one 4 feet deep and two 8 feet deep) with concrete coping and ceramic tile
- The Key Hole Pool: 10 feet deep, 23-foot (7.0 m) diameter with concrete coping and ceramic tile
- The Half Pipe Capsule: 11 to 13 feet deep with 1 to 3 feet of vertical
Originally opened by Jerry Steuernagel in 1979 as Surfin' Turf near Interstate 894 and West Loomis Road, this unique indoor skatepark consisted of in-ground concrete pools for riding skateboards. As skateboarding lost popularity, it closed in 1982 and the building was repurposed as a strip club called Bell E. Buttons, though the pools remained intact under the floor.
In 1987, the original owners of the skatepark were able to reacquire the building and reopen it for skateboarding as The Turf. At that time, it was one of only a handful of skateparks left in the U.S., and the only indoor skatepark in the country. It attracted professional and amateur skateboarders from around the world.
In 1995, skating any kind of transition was considered "uncool" and people and magazines alike thought Vert skating was in its death throes. This prompted the owners to fill the bowls with gravel, take off the pool coping that was on the Clover and the Keyhole bowls and cover the entire indoor portion of the park with concrete, and built a street course, hoping to make the park profitable once again. Unfortunately, this did not work and in 1996 the Turf closed its doors for good. The building then housed a cabinet company and a lawn and garden shop for nearly 15 years. Recently the building was vacated and demolished to make way for a new freeway ramp.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation acquired the property for use in constructing a new freeway ramp. The actual site of the concrete pools will only be used as a staging area for heavy equipment and is not slated for excavation. Work crews have filled in the pools for the safety of work crews, but the pools remain intact. Plans are for the staging area property to be turned over to the City of Greenfield after the project is completed in 2012
The Save The Turf Movement has been organized to spearhead efforts to save The Turf. They are working with the Wisconsin DOT and the City of Greenfield to make sure development efforts keep the fate of The Turf in mind. There are no specific plans for dealing with the site, but a grass roots campaign is underway by the Milwaukee Skateboard Association to gather support and funds. Tony Hawk and his Tony Hawk Foundation recently expressed interest in becoming involved with the effort along with professional skateboarders Lance Mountain and Jeff Grosso. Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke seems open to the idea of preserving the skatepark once the land is back in his hands, and has told the Milwaukee Skateboard Association that it "makes sense to explore every option to see what we can do."
In 2010, former owner Jerry Steuernagel described the skatepark at its peak: "We had 10,000 members from all over the world. Every kid was a member. That's how I sold it."
Notable Turf members
- Cyndy Pendergast
- Michael Banta
- Patti Hoffman
- Mark Grass*
- City of Greenfield Street Map
- Highway construction unearths old skateboard park - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- Turf Skatepark Uncovered - Thrasher Magazine
- Road construction reveals traces of old skate park called "The Turf" - "The Turf" was a mecca of skateboarding in the 1980s - Fox6now.com
- "Save The Turf" movement making progress on saving the Turf - The A.V. Club Milwaukee
- Save the Turf - Official website
- Milwaukee Skateboard Association - Facebook group
- Save the Turf - Facebook group