Clearly, they don’t play as much hockey in India as in Minnesota.
When Smaaash Chief Executive Keshav Baljee spoke at a media event at Mall of America on Monday, he challenged Minnesotans to try to make five consecutive shots past a robotic goalie. “Do it and you win a Harley-Davidson,” he said.
In just a few hours on opening day Tuesday, two Minnesota hockey players had new Harleys.
Baljee had reason to sound confident in his challenge. In the six arcade-on-steroids the company had opened in India since 2012, only five customers have won Harleys. Hundreds of thousands had played the interactive sports game.
The names of the two Minnesota winners have not yet been released. One was a 32-year-old man from Elk River who played high school hockey and used to coach junior hockey. The second was a 23-year-old man from St. Louis Park who played high school hockey and is currently in the Air Force.
Each won a 2016 Harley-Davidson Street XG500, which has a suggested retail price of $6,799.
After giving away two Harleys, Smaaash executives changed the prize for What the Puck players who make five shots to $100 Smaaash game cards.
Smaaash is still offering two Harleys for Super Keeper, a soccer interaction game. A person who scores five consecutive goals against the robotic goal keeper will be able to drive away on two wheels.
Although the What the Puck game in Indian Smaaash locations is closer to cricket, ice and field hockey are played there. Ice hockey is popular in Shimla, Ladakh and Kashmir in the colder, northern regions of India. The country has both women’s and men’s national hockey teams that compete in the Olympics.
Since America’s Adrenaline Arena (the three As in Smaaash) opened, the 40,000-square-foot center on the mall’s fourth floor has seen thousands of visitors each day. Co-founder Shripal Morakhia said the company is considering an expansion in the Mall of America, though it would not be in space of the mall’s movie theater that will close next week.
Besides the sports action games, the center also includes a multilevel go-cart track, virtual reality games, an arcade and a restaurant.