STAFF REPORTER SPORT activities and exhibitions will be taking centre stage this weekend as part of a commercial drive by the City Council to encourage shops to stay open on Saturday afternoons.

The events, which are expected to attract thousands of children and young people, will be held in two central squares and park areas of the city. This is only the second year that the sporting promotion has taken place but the timetable is being extended by a further hour, from 4-8pm.

Exhibitions will include 3x3 football, 3x3 basketball and athletics in the Parc de Ses Estaciones by the bus and rail station in Plaza España. There will also be displays of tennis and chess in Plaza Major and skating in Plaza Bisbe Berenguer de Palou.

Commerce Councillor, Joana Maria Borras who is also Sports and Youth director said yesterday that apart from sporting activities being a healthy pas-time, they “breathe life” into the city at weekends and will hopefully lead to more businesses remaining open to accommodate the crowds. Borras said that there is a Tourism element that has to be considered in the drive to bring a new dynamic to Palma on Saturdays and Sundays. With nine million tourists coming here every year, she said, and many people choosing Palma for “city break” weekends, finding all the shops shut on Saturday afternoons is not the best way to make visitors want to return, especially those who have come away with money to spend.