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Spring Housing Guide

Woodland mall gets extreme

When one thinks of the Woodland Mall, extreme sports might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But with the opening of Xscape in November, the two might be mentioned in the same breath for years to come.

The 35,000-square-ft action entertainment complex features Phazer Ball, paintless paint balls under black lights that uses a glow in the dark rubber pellet, a Playstation 2 and Xbox tournament area, numerous ramps for skateboarding and bike riding, as well as an arcade and teen club.

“Xscape is an Action Entertainment Complex which offers a variety of entertainment and activities for popular and alternative youth cultures,” owner Laurie Haas said.

What Xscape is now and what it was envisioned to be are somewhat different. According to Haas, Premiere Properties, Woodland Towne Centre’s management, was interested in opening an indoor skate park for their “wild wing.” Haas and her partner Scott Rood initially wanted to open a skating rink and Phazer Ball course. Premiere Properties approached Haas and Rood with the concept of a skate park and the two ideas began to take shape.

But Premiere Properties decided not to manage the skate park and realized there was not enough of an extreme sports population in Bowling Green to draw a good crowd, Haas and Rood decided to add a chill zone, video gaming area, teen club and an arcade and then Xscape was born.

Xscape’s gaming area features four 65 inch television screens for Playstation 2 and Xbox tournaments. The chill zone is an area complete with a 12 x12 projection screen which shows the newest extreme sports videos as well as showing “old school” videos on Thursdays.

The complex also includes a night club area with a stage for live bands and em-cee contests. Friday and Saturday nights are teen-only dance parties.

Though Haas and her partner decided not to open a strictly extreme sports facility, she says the sport is just beginning to blossom.

“The exciting thing is that extreme sports are still in their adolescence,” Haas said. “A good example would be American football in the 1940’s and just look where they are today.” Working with Xscape has also been a learning experience for Haas.

“What I have learned about these sports from the athletes is that their nature is one of constant evolution. For some individuals every other day they learn, or for some, invent or discover a new move or trick,” Haas said.

While Rood and Haas did not have that much of a background in extreme sports, Erich Burger did. Burger was brought in to design and build the skate park which led to him becoming the general manager.

“Erich is our general manager and one of the visionaries for the direction that this company will be taking in the future,” Haas said.

According to Burger, Xscape contains many activities geared toward kids and teens, but says the complex is not limited to a certain age group.

“We’re not discriminatory. You can watch kids come in with their parents and both of them turn into 12-year-olds,” Burger said. “It’s more of a family oriented facility.”

Burger says that University students are also welcome to take advantage of the hall rental that Xscape allows.

“We’re welcoming any sororities or fraternities in here for a private party,” Burger said. “As far as any other interests the University has, this is an open hall facility. If they want to bring an event here, we’re game.”

According to Burger, some University students have already visited Xscape.

“From day one of the Phazer Ball course we’ve had a lot of people come in from the University to play that. The Halo tournament drew a few people in from the University as well,” Burger said.

But not everything has gone smoothly with the opening of Xscape. Once the deal to open Xscape was finalized, they had only a short time to set-up the complex. Some people have found the content inside the building to be offensive.

According to Burger, a couple of DJ’s had played some offensive music and some of the Extreme Sports athletes express themselves in different ways, but he says that Xscape is still suitable for kids.

“We were given a month to open and things didn’t work out exactly how we planned, especially with kids. Any possible avenue they can get away with something they’re going to try,” Burger said. “But we are very family and moral oriented here. We don’t want to offend anyone.”

Burger says while they do not want to make offensive material a common practice, they do welcome people to be themselves. He says that expressing oneself is a big part of extreme sports.

“The fact that we have extreme sports here embraces individuality and creativity,” he said. “We’re not going to deny any group access unless they’re blatantly over the line.”

Even though Xscape was not opened under ideal circumstances, it has been operating as smoothly as expected. According to Beth Jensen, Manager and Marketing director of the Woodland Mall, Xscape has helped increase business for the mall as a whole.

“Traffic in the bars, restaurants and the movie theater have picked up,” Jensen said. “Parents are stopping for a movie while the kids are playing at Xscape. It’s worked out well for many businesses in the mall as well as those in the ‘wild wing.'”

Currently, the only Xscape is the Bowling Green location, but Haas and Burger say that they are actively pursuing expansion into other areas.

Prices may vary for activities and some participants may have to sign a waiver which can be downloaded at their website, www.xscapeforfun.com.

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