My partner in NJSkateshop, Steve Lenardo, has a pretty spot-on theory about the state of skateboarding -- it's turning into professional wrestling. One can't help but see the correlation when everyone has a silly fictional nickname and you have grown men video-rap-beefing on the Internet. And of course there is the constant rumor mill. Recently the Maloof Money Cup scaled back its annual event held at the Magic Trade Show and scrapped its Southern California contest because of delays in the Huntington Beach Skatepark. In true wrestling fashion, a rumor quickly spread that the Maloofs were done and pulling out of skateboarding -- it was like Triple H started telling everyone The Undertaker was dead.
I get more bogus information coming across my office desk then one can believe (yes, I have an office and a desk) but this tidbit really caught my attention. If true I was going to be really bummed because the MMC is the only contest series currently committed to building permanent skateparks in the places they hold their events. I decided to call Maloof Money Cup President, Tim McFerran and ask him if Hulk Hogan is, in fact, bald under his do-rag. Turns out the Maloofs are still committed to skateboarding and have chosen to take a page from David Stern's playbook, who has grown the NBA into a global phenomenon since he took over as commissioner in 1984.
ESPN.com: I was told you weren't doing an event in Vegas for Magic and now I see you're not having a long ollie contest.
McFerran: We started a partnership with Magic almost three years. Magic had all the tools to provide sales and contribute to the skate industry but they didn't have anyone helping them in the skateboarding world. They have all the major retailers coming to their show, what they lacked was the skateboard retailers, like yourself, going there. They came to us and asked us to help and we have done some contests: high ollie, best line and now long ollie. We're still doing The Maloof Long Ollie Challenge. But it has to change a lot to match the economy. It will be videotaped and put on our website. Luis Tolentino will be there, Famous is a big part of it, they're taking care of all the invites and it's still going to be fun. Time was a factor as to why we're not doing the regional qualifiers, but the Maloof's business is refocusing on where we think our growth is, which is international. The growth of skateboarding is really internationally.
So it's safe to say the South African Maloof Money Cup was a success?
South Africa was an unbelievable success. That city sold out every hotel, over 4,000 rooms, for every day we were there. They estimate over 1,000 tents were there. The fire department actually closed down the event every single day, including the practice day, because there were too many people. It was phenomenal. We had an opening ceremony that would rival a miniature Olympics. It involved, singing and skits and theatrics that lasted 2.5 hours and ended with a 30-minute fireworks program. We had about 1.6 million streams. We had 755,000 streams in New York and 1.9 million in D.C. What we've done is created a brand that's global.
But I heard you are pulling out of skateboarding.
No, no, no. I've invested five years of my life -- we're not going anywhere. The skatepark situation in Huntington Beach threw us for a loop. We didn't count on it taking so long for the park to be built. We counted on having an event there and that hurt. We made a commitment that we weren't going to have any more events unless we built a permanent skatepark. We spent a lot of time deciding what we should do and we didn't have time to build a skatepark and we didn't want to build something temporary. But we have a long-term contract with South Africa, and we're 30 days away from announcing two more countries. Is two more skateboarding events in Southern California going to help skateboarding around the world grow? I don't think so. We hope to do three events outside of the U.S. in 2012 and it's only going to grow from there because we have already got some other countries in line for 2013, all with permanent parks to be left behind. Yahoo recently listed South Africa as an emerging market for skateboarding, the Retailers Association attributed a 35 percent increase in sales because of Maloof going there and we hope to have that same effect in every country that we go to. We want to help build skateboarding globally.