'It's about getting people downtown': Pop-up skating event rolling into Raleigh Convention Center

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A pop-up skating party is rolling into town this weekend at the Raleigh Convention Center. Shop Local Raleigh is putting on the affair and officials say the event is to promote downtown business.

"This is not something that's about making profits. It is not a money-maker event. It's about getting people back downtown, and getting people out and about," said Jen Martin, the executive director of Shop Local Raleigh.

This organization is hosting its first large-scale, in-person event since the pandemic hit and sales so far are strong -- more than half of the event is sold out.

"Even at midnight, we kept hearing 'ding, ding, ding coming' in on the computer for people buying tickets," said Martin. "We didn't even know if anybody would buy a ticket. We took a huge gamble signing that contract."

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau says the event is part of a greater shift.

New projections for Wake County's tourism recovery show hotel stays are up more than 50 percent from this time last year.

Large conventions should begin returning by October. Leisure and business travel is forecasted to start recovering in July.

A series of major sporting events are coming to Wake County in the next three months.

The Tourism Department is looking to use the roller party as a model event.

"We're expecting for those events to showcase how we can safely execute events outdoors and indoors, and we're hopeful that will lead to more and future bookings as well," said Visit Raleigh spokesperson Scott Peacock.

Shop Local Raleigh says the affair, sponsored by Mako Medical, can safely host up to 300 people per session.

10,000 square feet of space is being rented out, which helps with social distancing and other safety measures.

"(We'll have) temperature checks. We'll have sanitization areas," said Martin.

Tickets are still available. The event runs Friday through Sunday.
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