Factory Skatepark to reopen as soft play centre

The Courier, by Stefan Morkis

The Factory Skatepark in Douglas announced that it will close on February 9 with the centre turned into a massive soft-play complex.

The Balunie Drive venue will include an adult obstacle course when the £200,000 revamp is completed.

A post on The Factory’s Facebook page stated: “The Factory Skate Park will be closing it’s doors as of Friday February 9 – at very short notice.

“The space where the skatepark is being turned into a massive soft play area for kids. The functioning skatepark will be no more.

“The skatepark has be the longest running indoor skatepark in Scotland, spanning over 20 years between two locations.

“The skatepark was for many of the Scottish blading community a place where we grew up and made some long standing friendships.

“Understand this is short notice but it would be great to get as many people as possible
together this Sunday for one last session.”

The original Factory opened in 1998 in Blinshall Street.

Plans for an expanded centre were unveiled in 2003.

Despite opposition from local residents concerned about noise levels, the new centre opened the following.

Skatepark deputy manager Owen Stewart, 25, said he was “heartbroken” at the decision to close.

He said all staff would be kept on at the soft-play centre but waning interest in skateboarding meant it was impossible to continue operating as a skatepark.

Mr Stewart said: “I’ve been working her for five years and was coming her for 10 years before that. I’m heartbroken.

“We’ve just had a rough couple of years and it’s just not sustainable any more.

“We were struggling to pay staff their wages. We are going to keep them on but we are going to do something else.”

Mark Selvey, The Factory’s deputy chief executive, said: “We are sad and this is going be disappointing news for hardcore fans, but there aren’t enough of them.

“There has been a clear decline in wheeled sports over the years and if it wasn’t for scooters, the decline would be much worse.

“We are going to revamp into a family entertainment centre with ninja warriors for adults and a soft play area.”

He added: “We are going to fill up 23,000 feet worth of space for the new entertainment centre so it’s going to be big.”

There has been dismay on social media at the decision to close the skatepark.

Dominic Bruce said: “So sad I cannot make it – was where I first ever put on a pair of skates, at a one week easter camp and I haven’t stopped since. Wish I could skate that spine one more time.”