PORTLAND, ORE.—Ping Pong has recently been popping up around the country in urban locations, and the trendy sport’s popularity continues to grow. Inspired by an ideal venue at Pure Space, a love of Ping Pong, and Susan Sarandon’s Ping Pong clubs, Spin Galactic, located in New York, Dubai, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Toronto, owner of West Coast Event Productions (WCEP), Duane Smith, is bringing his self-proclaimed “passion project” to life in the Pearl District of Portland.
“Ninety-nine percent of people I have spoken to have played a game of Ping Pong in their life, even if it was back when they were a kid, and they forget how much fun it is until they pick up a paddle! I want to bring a sense of nostalgia to Portlanders, and give people something that is inexpensive, healthy and fun to do, seven days a week” said Smith of his motive for opening the Ping Pong spot. Smith’s company, WCEP, controls a building called “Pure Space” where the event company frequently hosts large-scale events for hundreds of prominent clients both locally and nationally including Nike, Microsoft, Adidas, Ford Motor Company, and Widmere Beer. With 40 foot ceilings, over 16,500 square-feet of space, and 25 foot glass walls, Pure Space also serves as an optimal venue for Ping Pong and socializing.
As the largest, two-story Ping Pong club in the United States, with 20 plus tables, romantic lighting, music, video, and soon to come full bar and catering, Pure Pong offers an atmosphere and Ping Pong experience unlike any other. At Pure Pong, there is no chasing after runaway balls under the couch or lawn mower, and both “Ping Pong” and “Table Tennis” players coexist in Ping Pong peace.
Pure Pong in the Pearl caters to all levels of players, including Oregon’s 2012 State Champion, Tim Aikey, and Table Tennis Olympian, Sean O’Neill. Not all players however, boast such titles. Most who frequent Pure Pong in the Pearl are considered “Ping Pong” players—players that are seeking victory, though more importantly, a good time. Coined “Table Tennis” Players by Pure Pong, are the more competitive players, that generally take part in Pure Pong’s membership opportunities, as well as League and Tournament play, which is offered on Wednesday and Friday nights. Winners take home prizes, and bragging rights.
With three levels of membership, members reap a range of Ping Pong perks, which will soon include benefits from up and coming expansion plans, as well as retail items. Retail items will include professional quality Ping Pong products, some of which will be supplied by one of the largest Ping Pong retailers in the nation, The Paddle Palace, also located in Portland.
Portlander’s are also taking advantage of Pure Pong for corporate events. Smith loves the diverse range of players that come into Pure Pong. The location and festive environment delivers to all players, as does the management. Smith is eager to accommodate for corporate events, members, the occasional Saturday player, and professionals.
“I like the management at Pure Pong in the Pearl…they are very flexible to the needs of the players and coaches.” said Oregon’s 2012 State Champion, Aikey, who comes to Pure Pong not only as a member, but as a coach, along with Olympian O’Neill, and other professionals in the area for players looking to graduate from “Ping Pong”, to “Table Tennis” players. Programs for student and senior citizen lessons are also underway.
Portland’s excitement about Pure Pong is evident in the success the company has experienced within the first few weeks of opening. With the membership roster filling fast, and curious passerby’s popping in for a game of pong, Portland is soon to be known not only for beer, but for housing the largest Ping Pong spot in the nation.
Pure Pong in the Pearl: Pure Pong in the Pearl is a division of West Coast Event Productions Inc., striving to inspire everyone to take advantage of Ping Pong as a fun, healthful sport, while building camaraderie, developing skills, and igniting a sense of nostalgia.