The Columbia Association (CA) SportsPark officially opened May 2, 1998. The SportsPark was designed as a place for families to spend time together and kids to hang out with friends in a safe environment. The SportsPark was also created to provide new facilities for the baseball community. In addition to these goals, the park planned to provide businesses and residents with a place to host corporate outings, school and family events.
The SportsPark was originally planned to be built adjacent to the Hickory Ridge village center on Cedar Lane. The SportsPark location was moved to its current site behind the Harpers Choice village center, when residents adjacent to the proposed Hickory Ridge site objected to the park in that location. The current site had, for many years, been a BMX bike course.
When planning began in 1996 the original proposal called for eight batting cages, a 36-hole mini golf course and a playground. The original design also included an outdoor ice rink, however, due to high capital costs; plans for the outdoor ice rink were removed. The design team for the SportsPark traveled up and down the east coast, gathering ideas from various sports facilities and implementing those ideas into the design.
The 1.8 million dollar complex began development in September of 1997. The wet winter season caused a 47 day set back due to mud. When the park opened in 1998 it included an 18-hole mini golf course, 10 batting cages, a club house, two 600-foot pavilions and a playground. The miniature golf course was designed with extensive landscaping as a theme.
Today the SportsPark is thriving with over 26,000 visitors per season, and hosting over 100 corporate, school, and family events throughout the year.
The Columbia SkatePark was a $175,000 venture with the goal to provide youth with a fun and safe place to skateboard and in-line skate. Rob Goldman, vice president of the Sport and Fitness division at CA, envisioned a park that would allow skateboarders and in-line skaters an opportunity to come off the streets, out of the village centers and away from the Town Center, into a legal and supervised park. CA teamed up with the Howard County Police Department and provided police with ‘Skate Free’ coupons to hand out to teens found skating in prohibited areas; the coupons allowed those skaters one free session at the park.
CA wanted to create the best park possible so they asked local teenagers to share their input on the final SkatePark design. Initially the park was 10,000 square feet in size, consisting of 13 ramps and jumps. After a six-month delay, the SkatePark held its grand opening on June 17, 1999 featuring performances by two professional skaters from California, Gershon Mosley and Danny Garcia. Soon after the grand opening, skaters came out to show off their skills on the half-pipe and vert ramp, displaying all kinds of tricks from 360’s to kick flips.
In 2003, renovations expanded the SkatePark to 15,000 square feet. The renovations included the addition of two new quarter pipes, two jump boxes, a half pyramid and a four foot spine.
When the SkatePark opened, daily attendance was between 30 and 50 teens. The SkatePark hosts more skateboarders than in-line skaters. Helmets, knee and elbow pads are required by all. In-line skaters are also required to wear wrist guards.
The SkatePark is open year round and hosts skate competitions during the spring, summer and fall. As a benefit to the community, CA Package Plan and Package Plan Plus Members receive free admission to the SkatePark. In the spring of 2009 renovations are planned to repave the entire park and replace all the SkateLite Pro on the wooden ramps. These changes will continue to make The Columbia SkatePark a valuable amenity to the community.