Last month, Red Bull partnered with Nashville music venue Exit/In and the Music Venue Alliance Nashville to transform the iconic club into a pop-up skatepark for a series of socially distanced skate sessions, called Red Bull Skate Nash Stages, with proceeds supporting independent music venues.
Back in January, the beverage brand had teamed up with New York Independent Venue Association to debut the initiative. Red Bull Skate NYC Stages took place at the Knockdown Center in Queens. The Exit/In build featured several half pipes and both indoor and outdoor pop-up parks. In order to accommodate DJ performances, the skatepark needed to be built right into the venue's stage.
“The biggest challenge was maximizing the venue’s limited square footage knowing how much room the ramps would take up, all while managing space to keep everyone socially distanced,” explained Josh Greene of Throwing Star Collective, the company that oversaw the buildout. “Overall, it was more of a creative opportunity to transform the iconic stage into a skatepark by blending it all together. It was rewarding to put both DJs and skaters front and center in support of a great cause.”
Over the course of three days, several skate crews from Nashville, Chattanooga and Memphis visited the space, including an all-women’s crew, as well as a group of skaters aged 45 and up. Plus, Nashville-based band The Cadillac Three filmed a music video for its single “Bridges” at the indoor park. On site, there were compliance officers, temperature checks for all skaters, COVID-19 testing for all staff, symptom questionnaires and mask requirements. The skate ramps featured 6-foot markings, and all skate sessions were limited to 15 skaters on an invite-only basis.
“I was approached by Red Bull to turn Exit/In into a skatepark in support of Music Venue Alliance Nashville (MVAN). They hosted a similar activation in New York and wanted to share the love in Music City,” said Chris Cobb, owner of Exit/In and president of MVAN. “I had no idea how they would pull it off, but it turned out to be such a cool, creative use for the venue. This is one of those unique collaborations that could only happen in our ‘new normal.’”
Similar to other local and national organizations, MVAN was formed in an effort to support independent music venue owners and operators in Nashville through fundraising initiatives, grant programs and a streaming series.
Right after the Red Bull Skate Nash Stages event, it was announced that the building that houses the 50-year-old Exit/In was sold to hotel developer AJ Capital Partners, also known as Adventurous Journeys. In response, Cobb organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise money in order to present an offer, along with help from the Grubbs Properties, directly to the developer.
Over the weekend, AJ Capital Partners, which is known for its Graduate Hotels, said that it intends to preserve the historic music venue, including adding the venue to the National Register of Historic Places. Cobb has raised over $200,000 through his campaign with help from more than 4,000 donors. Adventurous Journeys founder Ben Weprin said in a statement that the company has offered to refund all donations. But Cobb is still hoping to purchase the building, saying in his own statement that "learning to own and operate a small independent venue is a monumental undertaking, especially for a company best known for building luxury developments."
This story was originally published on Connect's sister site, BizBash.com, here.