By next winter, Arundel Mills customers can finish their shopping and relax with a board slide and a couple of heel-flips.
Executives for ESPN Inc. and The Mills Corp. announced they have joined forces to build a skateboarding park at the mega-mall in Hanover.
The 50,000-square-foot facility will include skating "bowls" for gravity-defying skating tricks as well as areas for bicycling and in-line skating.
Executives at the companies - which announced the partnership this week - said they were unsure when construction would begin.
The partnership is an outgrowth of the popularity of "action sports" - which include bicycle stunts, skateboarding and in-line skating.
"This is really where a lot of teen-agers are really focusing a lot of time and energy," said David D'Onofrio, manager of corporate communications for Mills Corp. "More and more kids are getting involved in the action-sports game."
The Mills Corp. has skate parks at two of its malls in California, which it built through a partnership with Vans Inc., a footwear and clothing company.
D'Onofrio said pairing up with ESPN "takes it to the next step." Since 1995, the sports network has sponsored the X Games, which are considered the Olympics of action, or extreme, sports. In addition to the games, the X Games franchise includes a magazine, a Web site and merchandise.
"To have the opportunity to have a skate park with them is something you have to jump at," D'Onofrio said.
Arundel Mills is the second of four Mills malls slated to get a skate park in the next year. The first will open in November in conjunction with the opening of Discover Mills Mall in Atlanta. The other two will be built in the middle of next year at malls in Philadelphia and Dallas.
Those who want to use the facility will pay a membership fee to join and then pay each time they use it, D'Onofrio said. Experienced skateboarders will supervise the facility.
The skate park fits with the company's efforts to provide family entertainment and become a destination instead of merely a place to shop, D'Onofrio said.
ESPN executives called the skate parks the "ballfields of the 21st century" in their announcement of the joint venture. But though the popularity of action sports is surging, the number of facilities being built to accommodate them are slow to catch up, D'Onofrio said.
The skate parks at Mills Corp. malls are "going to be for everybody," said Josh Krulewitz, manager of communications for ESPN.
"It will be a family experience," he said. "The kids can go to the park. The parents will do what they want to do [at the mall]."