POPULAR SKATE PARK SET TO CLOSE

ACTION sports enthusiasts were ‘devastated’ to learn Bangor’s popular indoor skate park, Thunder Park, is to close and is on the hunt for new premises.

Founded in 2017 by owner Matt Gillespie, local BMX, skateboard, scooter and roller-skate fans were shocked to learn the Balloo Road venue will close its doors on Sunday, March 12.

Announcing the closure plans, Team Thunder Park stated that after trying ‘incredibly hard for almost 12 months’ they were ‘unable to come to an amicable deal with our landlord’ and must leave the Eddie Irvine Sports Centre.

The team appealed for help finding new premises saying: “If anyone would be interested in helping Thunder Park find a future elsewhere, please feel free to contact us on: hello@thunderactionsports.com, we’re not losing hope.”

“This news will undoubtedly be devastating to many people who experienced so many magic moments with us over the years and those who were yet planning to join us.

“We feel your pain, but we want you to join us in remembering all the wonderful things that were achieved through perseverance, determination and genuine love and passion for what we do.”

In the past five years, the Thunder Park team has welcomed 30,000 people into the complex with the aim of making action sports as accessible as possible through lessons, coaching clubs, holiday schemes, taster-sessions, professional meet and greets and video tutorials.

Thunder Park featured Ireland’s first ever elite training zone with a resi ramp and foam pit, generating a host of pro-level action sports riders from across Ireland and putting Northern Ireland on the action sports map.

The team paid tribute to the ‘generous and compassionate customers’ who helped raise ‘thousands of pounds for local and international charities by ‘doing what they love’.

“The facility was more than a local business that employed local people, it became a community. We fondly remember many moments where we witnessed breakthroughs, highs, lows and utter euphoria when ‘that trick’ was finally landed after all the previously failed attempts.

“Those were the moments when the whole facility would erupt in cheers, smiles and good vibrations, no matter who did it, for what sport, what age, race or gender.

“The time has come for our small but mighty business and incredible facility to close its chapter and come to an end.”

One local parent, whose child regularly enjoys Thunder Park, voiced her disappointment. “This is much more than just a skatepark, it is an investment in our young people and our community.

“This is about the lives of young children, their mental and physical wellbeing, about providing action sports in a professional and safe environment with expert coaching and skills. It provides a place for children to train, get fit, build confidence and make new friends.”

Lending her voice to the appeal for new premises she said: “Please someone help this fantastic business survive. The children need this amazing facility. Don’t let this generation tell the next ‘there used to be an amazing skate/BMX park in Bangor’.”