Skateboarders again take over old New Orleans airport terminal

May 1, 2022

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If the new César Pelli-designed Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport terminal, which opened to great fanfare in November 2019, wasn’t so visually impressive and full of amenities, the fact that the old terminal still stands intact, empty and visible across the airfield would be very sad.

Local aviation authorities hope to someday turn the old terminal into a thriving and profitable cargo and maintenance center. But in the meantime as the Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocated reported, the old terminal is earning its keep with cameo roles in film and TV productions.

A general view of the interior of the new airport at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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One of those money-making events took place earlier this month, when celebrity skateboarders and skateboard crews from across the country rolled into to the old terminal facilities – and even onto the tarmac – for Red Bull’s second Terminal Takeover.

Here is a short video of pro skateboarder Jake Wooten showing off his skills – and the airport terminal transformation – from last year’s event.

“I couldn’t believe we were able to do Red Bull Terminal Takeover the first time,” Wooten said in a statement. “It was beyond my imagination. Being able to do it again is an opportunity I would never miss out on. Seeing the faces of everyone who walks in solidifies the reason why we’re doing this for the community.”

pop up skate park old MSY
A participant performs a frontside ollie at Red Bull Terminal Takeover on April 16th, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mehring/Red Bull Content Pool)

For this year’s event, eight crews of skaters, each with their own filmer, were let loose in the former terminal on custom-built parks that made use of concourses, the ticket lobby, the bag claim area and a jet bridge.

Benches, old airport signage, a golf cart, check-in countertops, a bag claim carousel, handrails, hallways, ledges and ramps were all fair game. And they were all put to clever use by the team building the space.

And the build-out numbers are impressive. The 12-person crew spent three weeks on pre-build and had just four days to assemble the parks on site. They used 37,000 pounds of ramp materials and three tractor loads of supplies.

That’s not all. The competing skate teams were permitted to add their own touches and each crew designed their own street-style obstacles as part of their video edits.

The layout was not only a skateboarder’s paradise, but it was also “something I don’t think anyone can recreate, except in a video game,” said Tony Hawk Pro Skater game character Kareem Campbell, one of the celebrity skateboarders on hand for the event.

red bull terminal takeover old New Orleans airport
Jake Wooten performs a backside 360 at Red Bull Terminal Takeover on April 14th, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mehring/Red Bull Content Pool)

As a bonus, before the Terminal Takeover competition kicked off, the skateboarding crews joined the skateboarding pros for an open skate session. The build-crew had created a 24-foot-wide, 5-foot-tall mini ramp out off a jet bridge on the MSY tarmac to allow skating while planes landed and took off in the distance. To top it off, Red Bull aerobatic pilot Kevin Coleman flew by with three low knife edge passes in his Extra 300 plane 15-feet over the mini ramp.

skate park new orleans airport old terminal
A participant performs at Red Bull Terminal Takeover on April 16th, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mehring/Red Bull Content Pool)

This year, the eight participating Terminal Takeover teams hailed from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Atlanta, Birmingham, Tupelo, the Florida Panhandle, Philadelphia and Nashville (last year’s winners). Each team will be submitting two-minute video compilations of their skating adventures in the old Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport terminal. And those final videos will be posted on May 10 on redbull.com for a fan-sourced vote. The winning crew will receive a $5,000 prize toward their local skate scene.

It all makes you wish MSY authorities don’t rush to find a permanent tenant for that old terminal, for at least another year, doesn’t it?

Featured photo courtesy of Jonathan Mehring/Red Bull Content Pool.

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