Rebirth of The Turf Skatepark in Greenfield; 'certain aura to the place'

Ahead of a benefit concert on Saturday, June 15, FOX6 News explores the past, present and future of The Turf – an iconic skatepark in Greenfield.

Take one step inside the home of Jesse Geboy and it’s clear where his passion lies.

"Just under 4,000 all unique, all unused, individual skateboarding wheels," he said in front of his dining room wall. "Skateboarding just kind of filled that void immediately for me."

This father of two is still very in tune with his inner child.

"At the ripe age of 46," Geboy said with a smile. "Why wouldn’t you have a half pipe in your basement?"

Jesse Geboy

While the years take their toll…

"The recovery is worse," he said after a fall.

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There’s one piece in his collection that can turn back the clock.

"I stare at this all the time," said Geboy, looking at a collection of black and white photos on the wall. "Alright, back to figuring out where your lines are going to be, what you might be capable of trying."

Jesse Geboy

For skaters of a certain age, this was Milwaukee’s Mecca – The Turf Skatepark in Greenfield.

In its heyday in the 1980s, The Turf was iconic – even featured in a cult classic video.

Pros like Tony Hawk traveled here from around the country to test their skills.

Tony Hawk

"I can speak from experience," Geboy said of the rite of passage of a first run in the Clover Bowl. "I launched off the flat there and splatted it like a bug on the opposite wall."

But as trends changed and interest shifted to street-style skating, the fate of The Turf was seemingly sealed.

Unearthing The Turf

Today it’s a construction site near I-894 and Loomis Road. A place to reflect and wonder. Can everything old become new again?

Construction on The Turf Skatepark, Greenfield

"It was always such a bummer," said Geboy. "That I discovered The Turf and then lost it."

Or so he thought.

Construction on The Turf Skatepark, Greenfield

The land went through different owners and iterations before a surprise discovery in 2010. During excavation for a highway off-ramp, crews uncovered the park like some ancient ruins.

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"These were almost time capsules," Geboy remembered. "You could see the outline of every bowl."

Construction on The Turf Skatepark, Greenfield

FOX6 was there as skaters came from all over to resurrect their past.

"It is an absolute eerie feeling almost," one skater said in the old report. "It’s like something coming back from a grave."

"And then it was like, ‘No we’re skating this thing today,’" Geboy remembered. "Thankfully, a couple people got to. But it got shut down pretty quickly as well."

Unlikely ally for The Turf

After all, that was illegal. But skating’s counterculture found an unlikely ally at Greenfield City Hall.

"You can see the history in it," Greenfield Mayor Mike Neitzke said. "There’s a certain aura to the place."

Greenfield Mayor Mike Neitzke

A seed was planted for Neitzke, even if it took another decade to bloom.

"Of all the things that have happened to me as mayor for the last 20 years," he said. "This discovery back then just lit up the switchboard. It was amazing."

In 2019, the city bought the land from the Department of Transportation for $1, under the condition it would become a public park.

Construction on The Turf Skatepark, Greenfield

In February 2024, the Greenfield Common Council approved $2 million. They will restore the original five bowls, build an even bigger sixth bowl and add a new street course.

"Absolutely convinced that when this gets done, it’s going to be the greatest skateboard park – that’s going to have the largest draw in the Midwest," Neitzke said.

Greenfield Mayor Mike Neitzke

Consider the biggest name in the sport a fan.

"There aren’t many skateparks that people will travel great lengths to go see or to go ride," Tony Hawk said during a visit to Milwaukee in 2010. "And that would be one of them. People would come from all over the world to ride that park."

"For the thing to become unearthed," stated Geboy. "For us was like, ‘Oh, I guess I used my wish and here it is.’"

Construction on The Turf Skatepark, Greenfield

When you live life on four wheels, it’s funny how things come full circle.

How you can help

There is a benefit concert and skate jam supporting The Turf on Saturday, June 15. It runs from noon to 10 p.m. at Konkel Park in Greenfield. Learn more about the benefit concert – including the band lineup.