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ARLINGTON, VA-Mills Corp. and ESPN plan to develop seven X Games skate parks, with four planned in the next year.

The skate parks will be branded with ESPN sports action franchise The X Games and will be located at various Mills locations around the country.

The first skate park is slated to open in November, when Discover Mills, a 1.3 million-sf retail destination, opens in Gwinnett County, outside of Atlanta. Locally, a skate park is planned for early 2002 at Arundel Mills, a 1.3 million-sf retail facility in Hanover, MD. Other locations for skate parks in 2002 are Franklin Mills in the Philadelphia area and Grapevine Mills in Dallas.

The terms of the deal were not released, but Mills spokesman David D’Onofrio told GlobeSt.com that the skate parks would lease space from Mills.

D’Onofrio said that Mills already operates three skate parks under the Vans name. Vans is a skate and extreme sports apparel maker. Those parks would be unaffected by this deal, he said.

Woodward Camp, a 120-acre park in Woodward, PA for extreme sports such as skateboarding, in-line skating and BMX riding, will design the skate parks. Bob Lewis, program director at Woodward, told GlobeSt.com his park was one the largest extreme sports parks in the world, and that Woodward would be designing all ESPN/Mills X Games skate parks.

D’Onofrio said ESPN has had a past relationship with Woodward and it would indeed design the Discover Mills site, but he said no decision had been reached on the future parks.

ESPN said the skate parks will consist of 40,000 sf to 50,000 sf, various designed ramps, bowls and halfpipes for public skating, BMX riding or in-line skating, and retail. ESPN already operates seven ESPN Zone restaurants and virtual games complexes, including Atlanta, Washington and Baltimore.

The facilities have been located in themed destinations, like the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and are usually 35,000 sf. Mills Corp., a real estate investment trust, operates 12 retail and entertainment destinations, with about 17 million sf in 10 states.

One of the company’s first projects was Potomac Mills, a 1.7 million-sf retail destination outside of Washington, DC in Woodbridge, VA built in 1985. Potomac Mills has a Vans skate park. The Block at Orange and Ontario Mills are the other two properties that have Vans skate parks.

ESPN Inc. is a multimedia sports network, which is 80% owned by ABC Inc., a Disney subsidiary, and 20% owned by The Hearst Corp.

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