City site ramps up takeoff of Dew Tour

The Baltimore Sun

By now, Chris Prybylo can deliver the blueprint verbatim:

A 4,000-square-foot House of Dew entertainment area, 6,000 yards of freestyle motocross dirt, a hulking vertical ramp and more than 50 semi loads of machinery.

"It's essentially a big Lego set. We have well over 10,000 pieces of equipment," said Prybylo, senior director of events for the AST Dew Tour.

Everything has been assembled, and from tomorrow through Sunday, the Camden Yards sports complex will host the first of five stops on the 2007 tour.

The Panasonic Open will showcase some of the best talent in skateboarding and in BMX and freestyle motocross. It will also feature Dundalk native Bucky Lasek, the two-time defending Dew Cup winner, in skateboard vert.

"It's kind of like a dream come true," Lasek said of the event's coming to his hometown. "The only down part is, I wish that they could actually keep everything they're bringing there, because Baltimore needs something like that."

Construction of the site, which began June 11, typically takes seven days to complete, Prybylo said. He has a team of about 40 people who constructed three competition courses, not including personnel used by sponsors who run the festival portion of the event.

All events outdoors

This season, the event is taking a new approach.

The Baltimore stop will mark the first time since its inception in 2005 that the Dew Tour has held all events outdoors.

The attractions on the south side of M&T; Bank Stadium are the park course, which is essentially a skate park, a bike park and a vert ramp, where BMX and skateboard athletes will compete.

One of the goals of the tour, Lasek said, is to make the experience interactive for fans and athletes, and that starts with designing courses that are appealing to fans and athletes.

Interest in what are called action sports is growing quickly, and the designs of Dew Tour courses are changing even more quickly. Each stop on the tour is distinctive.

"We got tired of the same old boring back-and-forth, straight-wall ramp," said Lasek, who was instrumental in designing Baltimore's vert ramp. "Not only is it boring for you guys, it's boring visually for us. Baltimore has one of the bigger pieces with the better sections."

'Holistic experience'

The Dew Tour has sought to create a festival atmosphere to complement the competition.

In the festival village in Lot C of M&T; Bank Stadium, there will be live music and other entertainment, including simulations of a skate park, a dirt track and a BMX course where youths can compete.

Paul Tiburzi, chairman of the Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Commission, has the job of drawing events to Baltimore and keeping them here. He recently was involved in promoting the NCAA lacrosse championships, which drew record crowds at M&T; Bank Stadium. He is hoping that the Dew Tour event will have a similar impact.

"We've never had anything like this in Baltimore before," Tiburzi said. "It's more of a holistic experience. It's not just a passive viewing experience. There's people all around you. There's motorcycles flying through the air. It's more of a lifestyle; you sort of experience it. That's different from just sitting at an Orioles or Ravens game, as great as that is."

Crowd control

The event is expected to draw at least 50,000 people, but Alison Asti, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said she does not expect traffic problems. Baltimore is equipped to deal with such crowds, having grown accustomed to handling Ravens games and annual events such as the lacrosse final four. She does have other concerns, however.

"The one thing that worries me is people driving in on the interstate and seeing those people flipping upside down on motorcycles," Asti said. "I'm just hoping they keep their eyes on the road."

NBC, which is part-owner of the tour, will broadcast events live Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. The USA Network will show the skateboard park competition and the BMX vert finals from midnight to 1 a.m. on tape delay Friday and Saturday nights.

At season's end, the tour presents the Dew Cup to champions in each of the six disciplines.

"We're risking it all," Lasek said of the athletes. "If you're not going for it, believe me, the next guy is."

Following the action

What -- AST Dew Tour's Panasonic Open

Where -- Camden Yards sports complex

When -- Tomorrow-Sunday

Tickets -- Available online through Ticketmaster or through the M&T; Bank Stadium box office

Four-day pass (Thursday-Sunday): $35

Daily: $15

Daily children (12 and younger): $5

Premium: $100

TV -- Saturday, Sunday, 4-6 p.m., chs. 4, 11; Friday, Saturday nights, midnight-1 a.m. USA (tape)

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