Bike polo group petitions for space at a city park

ccampbell@newsobserver.comSeptember 28, 2013 

— Bike polo – the city’s newest sport – is seeking a permanent home in a city park.

The Raleigh Bike Polo League wrote to the city council last week, asking for permission to play in little-used tennis courts at Tarboro Road Park east of downtown.

League members say they’re working with Southeast Raleigh activist Octavia Rainey on the request and will speak to the city’s parks advisory board on Oct. 17.

“Bike polo is a relatively new sport here in Raleigh, but we are quickly gaining lots of support from the cycling community as well as local bike shops here, such as Oak City Cycling Project,” Michelle Willcox wrote to the council. “I believe that this would be highly beneficial to the cycling community as well as the city of Raleigh itself.”

The growing sport is similar to traditional polo, except that players ride bikes instead of horses. Raleigh’s group started about a year ago with fewer than seven players meeting weekly, without the city’s blessing, in a downtown parking deck.

The games then moved to a parking garage at N.C. State, but campus police weren’t comfortable with the events there either.

Now the group practices on Sundays at the Marsh Creek Park hockey rink in Northeast Raleigh. But the schedule sometimes conflicts with the Junior Roller Derby League, and the two organizations have clashed.

For a permanent home, the Bike Polo League settled on the pair of aging tennis courts at the corner of Edenton and Tarboro. The neighborhood doesn’t have many tennis players, and the courts have lights that would allow for polo after dark.

The proposal could face opposition from tennis players who say non-tennis uses damage their courts. But the league has support from Rainey and others who see the sport as a positive addition to a neighborhood that’s seen its share of crime over the years.

The league plans to bring a crowd to the Oct. 17 parks board meeting. Supporters are encouraged to bring bike helmets to show their approval.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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