RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – From Hopscotch music festival to Brewgaloo, Raleigh’s City Plaza on Fayetteville St. is home to several large events, but the City of Raleigh is also working to make it a destination on an average day.
One way they’re trying to do that is bringing in America’s fastest growing sport, pickleball.
Downtown Raleigh Alliance along with the city put up a free pop-up pickleball court at City Plaza. People do need to bring their own equipment.
DRA’s Planning and Transportation Manager Mary Sell said their office has a communal pickleball set so people can play during their breaks.
“We thought it’d be a wonderful way to activate the plaza and provide something fun for people to do on their lunch hour, or during the morning time, whenever they like to come down,” Sell said.
In the past, ice skating and mini soccer have been at City Plaza. Why bring sports to a street filled with office buildings?
“The whole point of a downtown is to bring people together,” said Raleigh’s Assistant Director of Planning and Development Ken Bowers.
Bowers said post COVID making a Downtown job attractive is about much more than a nice office.
“You know, the office has to now compete with your extra bedroom at home, and so you need something that you can’t get at home, which I think is that outdoor experience, that space, that social place where people can come together,” Bowers said.
Following DRA’s study to revive Downtown post COVID, the City Council authorized $400,000 in COVID relief money for improvement to City Plaza. Bowers said the city is looking at retractable shading to keep the plaza cool in the summer, an improved speaker system, and upgrading the outdoor furniture.
Ashton Fisher lives, works, and hangs out in Downtown Raleigh.
“Anything we can do to activate City Plaza is a great asset for the city, I think,” Fisher said.
So while she’s never picked up a paddle, she’s not ruling out stopping by the court after work.
“I would love to learn to play pickleball, so I don’t know that I personally will be out there maybe by myself, but some colleagues might go down there, I think some friends will probably get together and maybe somebody will teach me,” Fisher said.
The court will be at City Plaza until Nov. 30. It’s open from dawn to dusk.