Rosedale shoppers, now it’s your turn to operate construction equipment.
The shopping center in Roseville that has been a remodeling mess for nearly a year is bringing in Extreme Sandbox, the Hastings company that lets people drive bulldozers and other heavy equipment, to create a place where people can move some earth — or something like it.
Extreme Sandbox Mini, opening in mid-November, will feature two electric mini-excavators and five full-motion, surround screen simulations of a full-size excavator, backhoe, tower crane, rough terrain crane and wheel loader. Each simulator costs about $90,000.
“The mini-excavators are the same ones you see in hospitals and malls,” said Randy Stenger, founder and chief executive of Extreme Sandbox. “You can’t run a diesel engine indoors, so construction companies use these, but they can still tear out concrete.
Instead of the 10 acres of dirt that customers push around at the Hastings location, they will be excavating rubberized playground mulch in about 5,700 square feet of space on the first floor near Herberger’s.
“Our vision is edu-tainment,” Stenger said. “We use real-life tools and equipment to educate and inspire people, with the focus on being a kid at heart.”
In Hastings, customers must be at least 14 years old, but the Rosedale location will allow children on the simulators and mini-excavators. Stenger is hoping the experience will also attract women and students who are considering a job in construction. Pricing is still being finalized but is expected to be about $40 for 30 minutes on all of the machines.
Stenger saw the expansion into malls as an easier way to expand Extreme Sandbox. Finding 10 acres of land that can be zoned for his purposes has been a challenge nationwide, but many malls are faced with filling empty stores. Arcades and play centers are common in shopping malls. Extreme Sandbox Mini updates that concept.
Stenger plans to maximize his customer base by using the mall store for vocational training, student field trips, and corporate team-building events on weekdays and entertainment for the general public on evenings and weekends. “When malls are slowest on weekdays, we can drive customers,” he said.
Malls are adding more restaurants and entertainment options to engage shoppers longer. Mall of America has mastered the mix with tenants such as Nickelodeon Universe and Smaaash virtual reality arcade and go-carts. Southdale has added Dave & Buster’s and will soon add a Life Time fitness health club. Ridgedale has added Redstone and will soon open a Cheesecake Factory.
“Extreme Sandbox Mini will be a welcome addition to Rosedale Center,” Scott Michaelis, general manager of Rosedale, said in a statement. “It’s a concept that brings fun, all-age entertainment and education to the mall all day long.”
Stenger, who took on a three-year lease in Rosedale, also has an Extreme Sandbox location in Pottsboro, Texas, that opened in 2016. In 2014, he opened his first Extreme Sandbox Construction Camp for students 14- to 20-years-old who are interested in careers in operation, basic repair, inspection and maintenance of heavy equipment.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633